“Been There, Done That”: Things Older People Are Happily Leaving Behind

“Been There, Done That”: Things Older People Are Happily Leaving Behind

As you get older, priorities shift, and the things you stressed about in your youth start to feel a bit… silly. Chasing approval, dwelling on the past, putting up with toxic people – it all gets old. With age comes a sense of freedom – freedom to ditch the drama, embrace your real self, and focus on what truly makes you happy. With a lifetime of experience behind them, older folks know what’s worth holding on to, and what’s better left in the dust. Here are some things they happily let go of with age.

1. Caring what other people think

After years of trying to please everyone, older people finally realize a magical truth: most people are too wrapped up in their own lives to care much about yours. As PsychCentral points out, chasing approval is exhausting! Now, they rock what they want, say what they think, and let the haters hate. They’ve learned the hard way that trying to make the whole world love you is a surefire recipe for misery, so why waste the precious time?

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2. Comparing themselves to everyone (or anyone!) else

The younger you are, the more obsessed you are with keeping up with the Joneses. As you get older, you realize your neighbor’s fancy car and perfect lawn are kinda meaningless in the grand scheme of things. Happiness comes from within, not from outdoing your friends. Plus, with age comes the realization that behind those picture-perfect Instagram facades, everyone’s fighting their own battles.

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3. Letting fear hold them back

When you realize your time on this planet is limited, you stop letting fear get in the way of living. Suddenly, trying new things, pursuing those long-lost dreams, and taking risks becomes way more exciting than playing it safe. Fear has a way of making you miss out on all the awesome stuff life has to offer, and older folks have zero time for that nonsense.

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4. Toxic relationships of any kind

Life’s too short for draining friendships, manipulative family members, or relationships that bring more drama than joy. Older people get ruthless about protecting their peace. If you’re not adding to their happiness, you’re out of there. They’ve seen enough to know that investing in toxic relationships is like pouring water into a leaky bucket – pointless and emotionally draining.

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5. Holding grudges

Resentment is like carrying a hot coal – it only burns the person holding it. With age comes a sense of perspective. You realize that forgiveness is the ultimate “screw you” to someone who hurt you, and it frees you from the negativity. Besides, holding on to anger wrinkles way faster than smiling, and at a certain point, clear skin is more important than being “right.”

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6. Trying to change people

Accepting people as they are is revolutionary. Trying to force someone to fit your mold is a fool’s errand. Instead of wasting energy trying to fix people, you either accept them, flaws and all – or walk away. After years of dealing with difficult personalities, older folks know that leopards don’t change their spots, and trying to force them is a recipe for frustration.

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7. Waiting for the “right time”

Sadly, the perfect moment to pursue a dream, travel, or make a big change might never arrive. Older folks realize that “someday” is often a lie we tell ourselves. The time is now, regardless of how messy or imperfect your circumstances are. They know that if you wait for every light to turn green, you’ll never leave your driveway.

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8. Living in the past

Sure, nostalgia is fun, but dwelling on “the good old days” robs you of the present. You can’t go back, so why not focus on making the most of the time you have left? Regret is a wasted emotion, and older folks understand that harping on the past prevents them from fully enjoying all that the present has to offer.

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9. Sweating the small stuff

Spilled milk? Traffic jams? Losing an argument? With age comes a sense of what really matters in the long run. They’ve learned to pick their battles and let the minor annoyances roll off their backs. After years of navigating life’s ups and downs, they realize that getting worked up over every little thing is a waste of precious energy.

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10. Pretending to be something they’re not

Goodbye, trying to impress people! The freedom of ditching the facade and just being yourself is downright magical. Quirks, flaws, and all, older people have the confidence to just be authentically themselves. Plus, after years of faking it, they realize that real connections are built on honesty, not some phony image they’re trying to keep up.

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11. Constant busyness

Hustle culture is exhausting. They’ve finally figured out that overscheduling yourself is a recipe for burnout. Learning to slow down, savor simple pleasures, and embrace some downtime is a superpower. They’ve learned that rushing from one thing to the next leaves them stressed, cranky, and missing out on life’s little joys.

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12. Self-doubt and insecurity

The older you get, the more you realize that everyone’s just winging it. Insecurity fades as you pile up experiences, both good and bad. That self-assurance is way more attractive than trying to project a fake image of perfection. Plus, after weathering your fair share of storms, you start to trust your own judgment and stop seeking validation from every random person you meet.

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13. People-pleasing

The desperate need for validation fades as you realize your self-worth comes from within. Saying “no,” setting boundaries, and prioritizing their own needs becomes non-negotiable. It might ruffle some feathers, but who cares? They’ve earned the right to put their own well-being first after years of bending over backwards for everyone else.

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14. Material possessions as a status symbol

Fancy cars, designer labels – they lose their shine as you get older. They’ve realized experiences, meaningful connections, and their own well-being are far more valuable than any material possession. Sure, nice things are fun, but older folks know that happiness can’t be bought at the mall.

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15. Regretting mistakes

smiling woman riding in car

Everyone screws up – it’s part of being human. Instead of agonizing over past choices, they focus on what they’ve learned and how their experiences have shaped them. Every wrinkle tells a story, and they wear their past with pride. Plus, at a certain point, they’ve made enough mistakes to know better than to repeat them!

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16. Taking themselves too seriously

old man playing banjo

The ability to laugh at themselves? That’s a hallmark of aging gracefully. Mistakes become funny stories, embarrassing moments get a playful eye-roll, and they’ve learned to just roll with the punches life throws their way. Because honestly, life is absurd and unpredictable, and if you can’t laugh at yourself (and with yourself), you might as well just crawl under a rock and give up.

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Gail is Bolde's social media and partnership manager, as well as an all-around behind-the-scenes renaissance woman. She worked for more than 25 years in her city's local government before making the switch to women's lifestyle and relationship sites, initially at HelloGiggles before making the switch to Bolde.