Another thing that’s better about getting older is that you have had enough time and experience to figure out what works and what doesn’t. You’ve had a chance to figure out what behaviors bring people closer and which ones drive them away (and, ideally, you make use of this knowledge). You learn which coping mechanisms have staying power and which ones might get you through a bad day (massive quantities of chocolate, for example) but will leave you feeling faintly greasy and unwholesome and not much improved later on.
I think it’s called maturity, and it has much to recommend it. Honestly, except for the smooth skin and quick-healing cells, being young is not so great. You haven’t lived long enough to recognize that good times can follow bad – you haven’t gone through enough of those cycles to realize that there are cycles. You have had no time to build a foundation of character. You have this idea that you should project an identity, but you don’t actually have one to project.
So, yes, later on in life, it’s good to be stronger, wiser, etc.
But even with all of that, sometimes life just kicks you in the head and all the humor and strength and courage and resilience don’t seem to add up to much in the face of it. No one ever promised strength, resilience, humor, etc. were going to make every moment comfortable, or remove all doubt, or encompass you in a flannel pajama sack 24 hours a day.
I think that we modern people believe that a successful life is one that’s never marred by grief or fear or anxiety. Most self-help books try to tell us how to be happy – how to have only good experiences. Maybe what they should be telling us is how to get some perspective so the kicks in the head can take their place alongside all the other experiences – some good, some bad, some neutral, but all fair game.
Our ancient forebears were lucky if they lived to be 25 or 30 and probably didn’t think much about happiness. It’s a luxury we can think about only when the basic needs are satisfied. We’re not guaranteed that they will be. For many in the world they’re not, still today.
So, sometimes you have to punt – take the long and broad view. Long so you can recognize that any moment is just one of many, and even if it’s a hard one, it’s going to end and will be replaced by another that might be better (or worse, but hey, at least different). Broad so you can remember that we’re a random accident of evolution, and that nothing is promised. Broad so you can recognize joy and love and contentment for the gifts they are.