At age 41, Jill had a wakeup call that it was time to end a 12-year relationship with her boyfriend. It was the start of her journey to “let go for it” that has led her to accomplish amazing things. When it came to a marriage commitment, her boyfriend’s favorite two words were “not yet.” Jill finally realized if not yet, when? So, she let go of everything: Broke up with him, quit her job, moved from the Midwest to the East coast, and met a wonderful man online. They were married a year later.
Now in her mid-50s, Jill has come to fully embrace the power of letting go, but it took another blow—the loss of someone she deeply loved for her to realize what we all know is true, that life is precious and can end way too soon.
With that in mind, she decided she wanted to help other people let go of the things that were standing in the way of enjoying life. Starting with herself, she began working on letting go of the self-doubt and nagging burdens about her less-than-perfect body, in particular, that had plagued her since childhood. “We all have a motor running in our brains 24/7 telling us we aren’t good enough or pretty enough or thin enough,” says Jill, adding that letting go is a process. “Women, especially, have a hard time quieting the harsh voices in our heads and living up to society’s idea of what we should look and act like. All of this negative self-talk can take a toll on our self-worth and our outlook on life. It can also increase our stress, which has been well documented to affect our health.”
Instead, she says, at a certain age, letting go is not only an act of kindness, but preventive care. “When we learn to let go, we can enjoy better health as we grow older, and accept ourselves and love ourselves most. It’s very freeing.”
Jill wanted to get her message of letting go to a wider audience so she took on the ambitious, audacious idea of doing a TEDx talk called “The Unstoppable Power of Letting Go”. For those who don’t know, TED, which stands for “Technology, Entertainment and Design” is a non-profit devoted to spreading ideas in short 10- to 15-minute talks. Her proposal was accepted on the first try, which is highly unusual, but that is just like Jill. You can watch her talk here.
Jill is also working on a book about letting go and an advice column to help people let go for romantic love, specifically, which you can read on her website.
I hope you’ll take a few minutes to watch her talk; it is inspiring, touching and funny, and it might just make you think about what you are holding on to and what you need let go of to be happier and healthier as you age. In the talk, Jill lists five ways to let go. I won’t give them all way (you will just have to watch it!), but one of my favorite tips is “let go of the need to be perfect.” I had a friend who was a perfectionist, but she was always unhappy. The world isn’t perfect so trying to be a perfectionist is just self-defeating!
While letting go may not seem like an obvious way to improve your health as you age, it can be just as important as eating well and moving well. Each plays an important role in staying physically, mentally, and emotionally well as we age. For more tips and stories on how to do it, check out the book Food & Fitness After 50, by Chris Rosenbloom and Bob Murray.
And, if you have questions about eating well, moving well, or staying well as you age, leave us a question at our webpage.