How To Avoid the Killer Disease of Midlife

Photo by Diana Polekhina on Unsplash

Spoiler: It has nothing to do with diet, exercise, COVID, or vaccines

You and I are fighting a deadly disease that needlessly infects many midlifers.

If we let this disease take hold, the fatality rate is 100%.

The patient, though, is not your body — it’s your enjoyment of midlife. Your happiness.

The disease?

Overseriousness.

I had it bad for a while in my early midlife. I was a robot. No jokes. No mistakes. No jokes about mistakes. No joy.

All I could focus on was what was happening to me, why I wasn’t where I thought I should be at this time of my life, and how I will be relevant in The World.

All crap. All stuff that weighed me down. Stuff that steered me away from the joy of just living. I worried about everything.

Luckily, I had an awakening. Not a Paul-on-road-to-Damascus-lightning-bolt, but an epiphany just the same.

Over the last few years, I’ve learned to ratchet down the seriousness by lightening up and focusing on what I can control.

You may feel the weight of The World right now. Certainly, The World has tried its best to steal your attention with COVID, cancel-culture, political tribalism, financial fear…all of it.

I don’t blame you, but there is a solution. The first step is diagnosis.

Here’s how you know if overseriousness has infected you:

The Mirror

What do you see looking back at you?

It’s not your grey hair, waistline, or lines in your forehead that gives it away. You’ve earned all of that.

It’s the lack of twinkle in your eyes. The mischievousness is gone.

If you can’t find the twinkle, then you’re infected. The overseriousness has taken over.

Overseriousness causes a paleness as well. A paleness that leaks through your skin and infects your energy. Does the mirror reflect the paleness?

The Little Guy In Your Head

Are you irrationally afraid of saying the wrong thing?

Afraid of offending the wrong person or the wrong group? Afraid of pronouns? Afraid of being on the wrong side of the argument? Afraid you won’t be seen as one of the smart people?

I don’t mean the empathy filter. You know, the filter that all caring and rational humans (rather than nameless, faceless, anonymous internet humans) should apply to their thoughts, words, and deeds.

Keep that filter in place. You’re a human. You care.

I’m talking about the guy or girl in your head that has you completely curfuffled by what you can and cannot say anymore. What’s funny and what’s not funny?

You’re curfuffled because that little guy or girl makes no sense whatsoever.

That guy — If he’s in there, and you’re trying earnestly to listen to him, you have it. You have overseriousness.

The Cure

May sound simple, but stop taking yourself and this life so seriously.

Crack a joke. Take a joke. Go overboard without worrying about who’s offended.

Get out and run around. Fall down, and get back up. Laugh about it.

Be thankful for where you are today and the history that has created it. Yes, all of it. Some of it has sucked. Some of it has been great. All of it has made you who you are today.

And who you are today is 100% amazing.

Yup, you got wrinkles, grey hair (or no hair), and gravity-infected piece parts. So do I. We earned them. Who cares?

You got unfinished business? Finish it. Let the chips fall where they may.

You got some stuff you’ve always wanted to start? Start it. You may fail. Laugh it off.

Get uncomfortable.

Embarrass your kids, or at least make them roll their eyes.

What makes you laugh? Do it.

Dave Chappelle? He’s funny. So is Louis CK. And Stripes, Animal House, Caddyshack, The Blues Brothers…All funny. Cancel culture doesn’t undo funny.

You know what else is funny? Acid-washed jeans, parachute pants, leg warmers, swatches, and our ridiculous hairstyles that went with it all.

It’s funny. Let’s laugh.

Show your pictures to your kids or grandkids. Turn off the damn news and get off of social media.

Don’t let overseriousness derail a good laugh at yourself.

What Happens If You Don’t?

Your enjoyment of life is a gonner.

This disease is endemic. It attacks with equal opportunity. It affects your neighbors, friends, family, and our culture at large.

But we can put a stop to it. You and me. Two irrelevant midlifers. Each doing our part.

I promise I’ll do mine. Will you do yours? I’ll focus on what I can control, and you focus on what you can control.

Here’s the reality. Maybe you’re not where you wanted to be or projected yourself to be when you were younger. Likely you’ve been through some real shit. Maybe you’ve got a pile of debt, or a pile of money. Maybe you’ve had a single great relationship or an embarrassing string of terrible ones.

None of it matters. What matters is you’ve lived a bunch, and you still have a bunch to go. Are you gonna let others dictate your attitude about YOUR life?

Are you gonna let overseriousness derail it?

Life can be overbearing. Heavy. If you’re not careful, you’ll find yourself worrying about every damn thing. All induced by the fear mongering of The World — politics, the media, the so-called thought leaders of this world.

And then you’ll catch it — overseriousness.

Let’s leave the rules for who should be offended by what to the younger generation. Let’s leave the anger to older generation. Let’s leave the condescension to the elites. How about you and I stop taking ourselves and this world so damn seriously.

If we can’t enjoy this time in our life, regardless of…no…because of what the first 40–60 years gave us, then when?

Oh…and get the f*#k off my lawn.

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Obsesrver, Life-Curious, Beginner — Writing to try to figure out the stuff in my head

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John Macdonald

John Macdonald

Obsesrver, Life-Curious, Beginner — Writing to try to figure out the stuff in my head

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