If Life Begins at Forty

It was actually a song written in 1980 by John Lennon who turned 40 years old on that same year and as well as of his Beatles band mate Ringo Starr.

Then there was also this American self-help book titled Life Begins at Forty written in 1932 by Walter B. Pitkin. The book, in an attempt to provide a guide on how to achieve a happy existence even after reaching the age of 40, became the number 1 American bestselling non-fiction in 1933.


But what, in fact, is the message behind the catchphrase–life begins at forty–would like to convey?

It means different things to different people. Some people would like to use this catchphrase as a way of making them feel somewhat comfortable about their age.

And there are also some people who would like to consider it as the check point by which they can submit themselves for inspections and to choose to decide whether to continue on the path they had been following for the last 39 years or to look for something else or new.

Some people would be associating it with the beginning of the end; the onset of old age. But there also some who would like to link it to a renewed youth and vigor by which they have to embark on a journey that offers them the thrill of adventures, to try new things, and make a difference.


The catchphrase “life begins at forty” simply means a challenge; that a person, at 40 years of age, is mature enough to have the experience and skill he will need to do something about what he wants to do with the rest of his life. Although it can also be said that, regardless of age, any person could achieve great accomplishments.

The great Italian painter Michelangelo painted one of his masterpieces, the Last Judgment, at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel when he was 60; it took him 6 years to finish it.


But it could as well be the best time, upon reaching 40, to have these questions we have to ask ourselves about:

  • What have we done in the last 39 years that is worth remembering?
  • Now that we have reached 40, what will most matter to us now?
  • If we could do it all over again, would we change anything?
  • From our own perspective, what is the difference between to fully live and to simply just exist?
  • What is the best thing that ever happened to us?
  • What are those things we regret not doing something when we could have?
  • What would we most prefer now, time or money?

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