Life as a Psychologist: On Turning 50

I turned 50 this month! Have you been there yet? My sister, Robin, just turned 53. Like a younger sibling will tend to do, I’ve always looked up to her. As I thought about the transition into this new half-century (as my mom loudly described my birthday to the world on Facebook with the world), I’m not sure how much of my experience is part of the human condition and how much is unique.

  • First, I love how Hillary Clinton has chosen to not wear makeup when she doesn’t feel like it. In my 50’s, I’ll be right there with her. My sister, on the other hand, never cared much about makeup and has gone with the natural look for 53 years. So I know that going casual isn’t unique to turning 50.
  • Second, I’ve heard a lot of people say that as they get older, they care less about what people think about them. In my 50’s, I’ll be right there with those people. My sister, on the other hand, has never cared much about what people think about her. So I know that not caring about what other people think isn’t unique to turning 50.
  • Third, I’ve noticed that as people mature, they seem to be less self-focused and put more time and energy in supporting important causes. In my 50’s, I’ll be all about putting more time and energy into supporting causes that are important to me. My sister, on the other hand, has been supporting causes for as long as I can remember. So I know that supporting causes isn’t unique to turning 50.

So what’s the big deal about turning 50? Oh yes, there’s the forgetfulness. I bought a new eye cream, and I keep forgetting to use it. I got a good book from the library, and I forgot to read it. I came home from the grocery store, and I forgot where I put my purse. If this is about turning 50, I’ve got serious concerns about the upcoming decades.

At the same time, I’ve never been happier. As a wife, mother, psychologist, author, and speaker, I feel more blessed and grateful than ever. I love the life I’m living, and if it continues to get better, then I’ve got a lot to look forward to in the upcoming decades.

There’s more. Here’s what I love about turning 50:

  • First, I can ask for what I want—and then let go of the outcome. Although you might be thinking that I’m referring to sex, I’m referring to simple things like asking my son “for my birthday” to do the pile of dishes that had been growing on the sink for three days. Even though I had let go of the outcome, when I walked in the kitchen, it was spotless.
  • Second, I enjoy continuing to see how paradox plays out in life. For example, having a busy mind does not equal efficiency. Rather, clearing the mind chatter can clear the chores.
  • Third, I love living my life according to my values. For instance, taking time to share a family meal, pull weeds, and call my dad is way more important than Tweeting.


  1. What’s your experience with turning 30, 50, 70, or more?
  2. What examples from your own experience do you find are part of the human condition?
  3. Life experiences tend to have a dark side and a light side. If you’ve been focused lately on the dark side of a particular life experience, how can you turn it around and find the light side?