Think about it, the older generation has seen it all—their share of successes and failures, heartbreaks and triumphs.
When we’re faced with a tough decision, they can offer valuable insights based on their own experiences. They’ve made their fair share of mistakes, and by sharing those stories, they can help us avoid making similar blunders.
One Redditor asked, “People who are 40+ and happy with their life, what is your advice to people in their 20s?” Thousands of users shared their opinions, and we have hand-picked the top suggestions for you.
1. Dental Care
First things first, brush those teeth like it’s your job! Get yourself a soft-bristled toothbrush and some fluoride toothpaste. And don’t forget to hit all the nooks and crannies—those sneaky back molars need love too!
A discerning Reddit user commented, “Take care of your teeth!”
Someone else added, “Yeah, my sis in law just spent 30k+ getting a whole new set at 60. Floss your teeth!”
Another replied, “This needs to be higher. BRUSH YOUR TEETH. AND F****** FLOSS”
2. Be Happy
One said, “Learn how to be happy with yourself, because you never know what life is going to throw at you and you’re the only real constant.”
Another person agreed to it and said, “100%. Do what makes you happy and don’t forget what makes you happy. Love yourself. And if you do decide to have a partner in life..
Make sure they are committed to making themselves happy as well and being respectful to you. Love and s** are kind of a given. But truthfully. Respect. Mutual respect goes a long way to happiness”
Life’s a wild ride, so embrace it with open arms. Don’t get too caught up in chasing a distant destination of happiness. Instead, appreciate the small joys and find happiness in everyday experiences. It’s about the journey, not just the endgame!
3. Choosing a Partner
A Reddit user wrote, “Looks fade for a partner; find someone you actually like and enjoy as a person.”
Another added, “I’m 30 and I was never someone who put looks before personality. The amount of people that make it about looks before anything else is astounding.”
Someone else replied, “Find someone intelligent. Looks fade but stupid lasts forever”
So, don’t rush into a lifelong commitment. Take the time to get to know your partner truly. And Let the relationship unfold naturally at a pace that feels right.
One Redditor stated, “Get healthy and take care of your body. You don’t need to be a marathon runner or CrossFit expert but get moving and do some stretching and yoga.”
Another person pitched in to say, “I’m just 26 and can already feel the negative effects of not stretching. I’m rigid like a rhino.”
Another Redditor agreed to say, “I’m 35, never stretched or did yoga because I thought it was girly and lame. At 30 I was in a major car accident that nearly killed me, and left me with a half dozen liquified discs in my spine. About two years ago, my wife got me into yoga just to help the pain, and I can’t tell you how amazing I feel. I actually feel better now than I did in my 20s – aside from the discs, of course.”
Exercise shouldn’t feel like a chore. So, find an activity that gets you excited and makes you want to move. It could be dancing, swimming, playing a sport, hiking, or even just taking long walks. When you enjoy what you’re doing, you’re more likely to stick with it!
5. Little Things
Life is messy, and so are we. So, take a step back and ask yourself, “Will this matter in a year? In five years?” Most of the time, the little things that stress us out don’t significantly impact our lives in the long run! So, focus on the bigger picture, and don’t sweat the small stuff.
Someone on Reddit said, “Nearly 50 here. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Don’t overthink everything. Know that your life happens on its own timeline, not on other people’s.”
Someone commented, “I’m starting uni at 26. Will have my degree around 30 (birthday is around the end of the school year so it’s 50/50). This is my silly little timeline. I’m gonna be 30 with or without that degree!”
6. Other’s Opinions
Remember: You are one-of-a-kind, and that’s something to celebrate.
One said, “This seems so obvious, but I didn’t truly learn it until I was in my early 30s. But life is so much better when you live it for you and stop caring what other people think of you. I spent so much time in my 20s worrying about what people thought of me. I found true freedom and happiness when I was able to let that go.”
Someone else couldn’t agree but say, “Yep. Stop giving a s*** what other people think. Holding yourself to the standards of others is a recipe for failure. Also, don’t try forcing your standards on others.”
So, focus on accepting and loving yourself, flaws and all. When you have a strong sense of self-worth, other people’s opinions hold less power over you, that’s for sure!
7. Just Enjoy!
Life happens here and now, so make the most of it. Be fully present in each experience, whether it’s a beautiful sunset or a fun adventure. Let go of worries about the past or anxieties about the future, and immerse yourself in the joy of the present moment. That’s all it takes to enjoy!
One shared, “That’s the harsh truth. Young people, know that your 40s will absolutely arrive way before you thought they would.
Having said that, enjoy your youth to the max. Do the risky moves and adventures you want to do. There will probably never be another time of your life when you can be more adventurous. Jump on opportunities. Go places. Say yes. Try things. Live outside of your comfort zone.
Soon life gets more serious, and your actions become part of your web of responsibilities. But while you are doing this, always remember to never take irreversible decisions. Your 40-year-old self will never ever think like you do now. So leave them the choice to change course.”
Another Redditor couldn’t agree more and said, “I just got back from Iceland with my wife (we are early 40s), and this kid who sat next to me was 22 just got done backpacking through Spain. He said he spent like 800 bucks for everything and walked 280 miles over 3 weeks. Like that is the great you wanna do when you young if at all possible. I can hike, but no way could I make it that far.”
8. Mental Health
In this fast-paced world, it’s crucial for young people to pay attention to their mental health. And who better to offer guidance than our seasoned elders? With their wealth of life experience, they’ve learned a thing or two about the importance of mental well-being.
Someone wrote, “Don’t keep people in your life who are emotionally draining. I have had to cut off close friends for my own mental health.”
Another person added, “Yes, this x 100. I had lifelong friends that I loved dearly, but they were no good for me. Always creating drama, didn’t get along with my wife, easily offended, stuff like that. Over COVID I lost touch with a few of them, and it’s made my life feel so much easier.
I tell my own kids, always try to be the easy person to be around. Don’t cause c**p for no reason, be the person paying others compliments, laugh at other people’s jokes, go out of your way to lend a hand to others, never let someone feel like they are putting you out by asking for help. Those are the marks of a good friend, a good teammate, a good boss, a good spouse. Just be easy.”
9. Save Money
In a world where temptations to spend money are abundant, the advice of our older generation on saving money is invaluable. Saving money is a skill that young people can benefit from throughout their lives.
One user shared, “Saving and investing – compound interest is a thing!
Another added, “It is that simple. I do financial planning for people, and I’ve never met a single person who couldn’t save money, even though 100% of them say that by the time they come to me. Sometimes it’s only $20/month, but it’s getting the habit started that makes the difference. I personally know and have helped people who make $30k/year and are on track to have a comfortable retirement and people who make $150k/year who live paycheck to paycheck without ever saving a dime.”
Someone said, “My (m74) advice is: learn how to meditate and then make meditation your habit. This will vastly improve your chances of becoming grateful and kind. Gratitude and kindness are the keys to happiness.”
Another added, “There are many ways to meditate. I’ve been practicing the techniques taught by Prem Rawat for the last 49 years. Before that, I tried zen meditation which I learned from a book by Alan Watts. I know a lot of people who have had great success with transcendental meditation, brought to the West by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the ‘70’s. Mindfulness meditation, as taught by Tara Brach and many others, is also great. I think it’s good is to find a teacher. The main thing is to keep it up through the years. I believe meditation is the best way to achieve inner peace and happiness.”
Our older generation has cherished the practice of meditation for centuries, and they have prized insights to share with the younger gen.
11. Physical Care
One Reddit user wrote, “Skin care is important even as men. Wear sunblock and hydrate. I fortunately listened, but there’s people my age who look 60. Stay in shape; your body will thank you 35+.”
Someone said, “When I was younger, I could shave weight very easy, eat right and light workouts for a month, and I’m back in shape. My mid-thirties I finally had enough extra money to go out and eat whatever, drink, etc, and was gaining weight fast. About 30lbs overweight and almost forty. Been working this stuff off for almost a year now haha.”
Old timers know the saying, “You are what you eat,” and they’ll always remind young people of the importance of feeding their bodies with wholesome food.
12. The Credit Card Conundrum
Our wise elders know credit cards can be deceptive, making it easy to overspend and accumulate debt without fully realizing the consequences. They’ll caution young people about the high-interest rates and fees associated with credit cards, which can quickly add up and become a burden.
One wrote, “Well, all I know is that my credit cards have offered me a risk-free way to spend while I am on vacation and allowed me to charge back multiple instances of fraud (double charged for rental).
They also gave me airline status and thousands of dollars worth of points, that have, for about 10 years now, amounted to me increasing my purchasing power by about 2%. That being said, I also pay off my credit cards in full every week. So it is good advice if you can’t control yourself, bad advice if you have basic impulse control.”
Another commented, “Credit cards allow you to spend money you don’t have to get what you want right now, at the price of spending (often) way more than you don’t have over a long period of time. Same thing with financing things.
An example is you want a new 2,000-dollar tv but are broke. You finance it; you think it’s all good and well because you’re only paying 60 dollars a month for it. Guess how long it’ll take to pay it off, though? 11 years. And you’ll be spending much, much more than 2,000 in total. You’re better off holding off on it, picking up some overtime shifts, and just buying it when you have the money.
Of course, in some scenarios, you can’t always avoid this (almost no one will be able to buy a house outright without a lender), but if you can avoid using a credit card (after building a good credit score) or a loan, then you should make every effort to.”
13. Change Your Job
A Redditor wrote, “Job hop every 2 – 3 years. You will get a raise every time, and your resume will look more attractive than if you only had 1 or 2 jobs. Spend your 20s trying out different industries and roles until you find something that speaks to you. You don’t need to show loyalty until you find a company you LOVE, and that’s not likely going to happen in your 20s.”
Someone else agreed and said, “Most definitely! If I had stuck with what I thought I wanted to do while I was in college, what I actually did when I got out of college, and what I thought I wanted to do through most of my twenties, I would not be in the job I have now. I love my career. But also, every time I job hopped to a new job, I got a 10% to 30% pay increase. After getting out of the military, in the span of 10 years, I went from making about $12.50 an hour to over $150,000 a year. I see my friends that have stayed at the same company or only work two jobs in the last 10 years stuck at $70,000 – $80,000 while their new hires make more than they do.”
The advice from our older generation on changing jobs regularly for higher pay comes from their own experiences!
14. Do Not Settle!
In a world full of expectations and pressures, our older generation possesses valuable insights on the importance of pursuing what truly resonates with our hearts and souls. They advise us to avoid settling for anything we do not want. So, dream big and embrace your passions.
Someone said, “Trust your gut. Don’t settle for anything less than what you want, no matter what it takes to get there or what anyone else thinks.”
Another person shared similar thoughts and mentioned, “I settled for a job that I didn’t want to do at a company I wanted to work, and it paid massive dividends. I am 10 years in, have stellar benefits, great pay, educational and environmental incentives and a great work life balance. Have a plan, don’t be afraid to take calculated risks, but always keep your focus on WHAT you want.”
One user said, “Wear sunscreen. If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience… I will dispense this advice now.”
Someone else added, “And wear sunscreen. For health and cosmetic reason.”
Let’s listen to the wisdom of our elders and make sunscreen a non-negotiable part of our daily routine. Remember, a little sunscreen today can go a long way in preserving the health and beauty of our skin tomorrow!
16. Don’t Rush Your Relationships
Relationships are a significant part of our lives, so take your sweet time to choose the right person!
Someone commented, “53 and pretty d**n happy overall. I’ve done some things I wish I hadn’t, but here’s what I did right: If you get married or get into a long-term romantic relationship, choose wisely. And if you and that wonderful person choose to have children, don’t rush into it. Have some fun together first. Build some memories as a couple. Grow up a little. Then maybe have kids.”
Another responded, “I’ve seen lots of people leave very long-term partners, and within a year, they find another partner and are usually married with kids within three years. If you’re thinking of leaving, waiting longer certainly won’t gain you more time!
I had similar thoughts when I was with someone who was absolutely awful to me. “But if I leave him, who else will I find?!” I started dating someone else within a couple months, and we’ve been married 7 years and have a kid now.
I also know a couple who just adopted a baby (they have 5 older kids, together and from previous marriages), and she’s nearly 40, and he nearly 50. Another mom I follow has 3 kids, 5 and under, and she’s 39. My grandma was 31, 36, and 40 when her three kids were born in the ’60s, unusual for that time. It’s all personal preference really!”
Life is a beautiful and unpredictable adventure, and elders have a wealth of wisdom to share with the younger generation!
Someone said, “Live with purpose. Set long-term goals, set short-term goals to reach your long-term goals, then work towards them. Evaluate as you go along.
As I look back on my life, the people who have done well are the people who have actively worked towards things, and the people who have not done well are those who did not. The general gripe I have with Gen Z and younger millennials is they seem to be waiting for life to happen to them while life is actually passing them by.”
A discerning Reddit user commented, “It took me far longer to absorb and live this lesson. I was in my late 40s when I lost both of my parents, less than two yrs apart. After surviving that trauma, it forced me to confront what values were really important to me in order to live my best life, and by doing so, I could be more present to help those I truly care about.”
18. Just Do It
Someone on Reddit said, “Most things are not going to magically get better unless you make a change to make things better. Also, time will pass either way, so don’t think it’s too late to change whether it be a job or relationship. At 25, 5 years seems like forever to throw something away and start over; at 50 you’ll be realizing you could have had 25 years of happiness if you had changed when you realized it was broken.
I went back to school in my 30s, and it was the best thing I ever did. I had a BS in economics but was working in a call center (graduated during a major bank crash). I was so stressed I was physically making myself sick. I went back and got a master’s in accounting, got my CPA, now I love my job, have great benefits, and just bought a house. None of that would have been possible if I had stayed in the call center.
But seeing people in their 20s talking about staying in an ab**ive relationship because they’ve already been in it for 5-10 years makes me want to scream. You have the rest of your life to do better. Start now. Don’t be a 50-year-old saying well; I’m 30 years into this ab**ive relationship; surely one of us will die soon.”
Life is a delicate balance between action and patience. With their wisdom, our older generation advises young people to “just do it” while patiently waiting for things to unfold!
In a digital age filled with distractions, we only need a good book to read!
A Redditor wrote, “Became much happier after reading and applying the advice from “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” and then got another boost in happiness from reading and applying insights from “The Art of Not Giving a F***”. Wish I had read the first book years before, but I was not ready to understand it then.”
Another replied, “As early as possible in life, decide what you enjoy the most in life. And then go for that with all you’ve got. As in talk to everyone you can, read everything you can, and ask for all the advice you can. Even if you don’t have a specific idea, you can narrow things down.”
20. Family Is Everything
Family is a cornerstone of our lives, providing love, support, and a sense of belonging. Older generations have this one piece of advice: prioritize and cherish your familial bonds.
Someone commented, “Family is everything. Whether it’s you and just your significant other, a small family, or a large family…family is everything. We’re notoriously cheap on everything but vacations. I love to spend money on vacations because they make memories and are experiences for our family.
Along those lines, your kids don’t know that some things don’t cost a lot (or any) money to do for entertainment. Some of the best times we’ve had as a family cost us virtually nothing. It’s about being together. Parks, going for ice cream, day trips to state parks…there is so much to do out there that doesn’t cost much.”
Another person pitched in to say, “You’re not going to have it all figured out in your twenties or even after. Things will come along that throw you off. If your base is sound, strong family and friendships, being thrown off becomes much easier to deal with, and not having it all figured out seems manageable.”
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This article was produced and syndicated by A Dime Saved.