Being young and successful is a bit mundane. Sure, it’s a huge achievement, but it takes the limelight away from being ‘old’ and successful. After all, winning at life doesn’t stop after you hit a certain number. Like 40. Writer and Bram Stoker Award-winning editor Doug Murano from South Dakota started up a viral thread on Twitter, asking over-40’s to share their brilliant achievements to help inspire everyone and help us all believe that it’s never, ever too late to be awesome.
Age is just a number. Henry Ford created the Model T car when he was 45 and fashion designer Vera Wang sold her first dress when she was 40. So stop worrying about your upcoming birthday, scroll down, upvote your fave 40+ success stories, and share your own!
Bored Panda spoke about hope, perseverance, celebrating our elders, and over-40s success stories with the original poster of the thread, Murano. We also reached out to Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, about staying active and mentally sharp as we age. Scroll down for both interviews, dear Pandas.
Murano told us all about what inspired him to create the thread. He revealed that he is extremely proud of the successes achieved by the women in his family.
"I was raised to value grit over grace. That might be a South Dakota thing. The women in my life—particularly my mother and maternal grandmother—have set wonderful examples for me in terms of reinvention and perseverance. My grandmother attended university classes and became a certified Master Gardener in her 80s after my grandfather died. At 97, she still tends her own garden. My mother worked some extremely difficult jobs (including one in a meat processing plant) to help fund her doctorate. I had seen (yet another) 'under 40' list the day I wrote the tweet and immediately thought of them."
Murano admitted that he was "floored" by the response to his thread. "I didn't use any hashtags in the tweet and wasn't expecting it to get this level of attention at all. I was excited when it reached 2,000 likes and it has been wild to follow the numbers as they approach 200,000 likes and 7 million impressions. More than that, though, I have enjoyed seeing stories come in from all over the world."
As for why the media and pop culture seem to be enamored with stories about success at a young age, he believes that it's all down to priorities. "Conventional standards of beauty are king in the media. Young people typically fit that mold more readily than the middle-aged or elderly and attract eyeballs more readily. I think that's probably why I gravitated toward the image of hands that had seen life and work. Again, I think of my grandmother's hands, which are like driftwood now. To me, that's more beautiful than anything," he said.
According to Murano, drawing more attention to over-40s success stories is vital. "Modern American life tells us we need to spend 40 years breaking ourselves in the pursuit of certain markers of success and then tells us we're irrelevant after we've done exactly that," he pointed out the hypocrisy.
"It doesn't make any sense to me and it runs counter to what healthy cultures do, which is to revere and celebrate their elders. What touched me the most about the responses I received weren't even the career wins—it was the person who finally got the courage to learn to drive at 45, the grandmother who took up painting at 70, the grandfather who learned to swim. We can make meaning in our lives in so many ways. Let's expand that notion. Let's celebrate our elders and learn from their example."
Murano also told us a little bit more about himself. "People who start following me because of this tweet might think it's strange for a professional in the horror field to be talking about hope and inspiration, but it's a thread that I've woven through my entire bibliography—particularly in my anthologies Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories (nominated for a Bram Stoker Award, horror literature's highest honor) and Behold! Oddities, Curiosities & Undefinable Wonders (which won the Bram Stoker Award). I've always been interested in how the pain of life can make us more beautiful and interesting, so this tweet felt like the most natural thing in the world to me in terms of my life and work."
Murano's inspirational thread went viral with over 184k likes and 32.3k retweets and counting. It’s relatable because the thread isn’t just about feeling good about ourselves; it’s also scientifically accurate. MIT professor Pierre Azoulay analyzed 2.7 million company founders between 2007 and 2014 and found that their average age was around 40, writes Business Insider.
There’s absolutely no doubt that people can be successful whatever age they’re at. But it takes willpower, effort, a lot of resilience, and good physical and mental health. And that means listening, not ignoring, your body’s needs to improve your chances of reaching your goals.
Age UK's Charity Director Abrahams said that even though some people's thinking skills can decline as we get older, it's not an inevitable part of aging. "Our own studies have shown important connections between positive mental wellbeing and keeping active, and having better thinking skills in later life. This is good news because our sense of mental wellbeing is something we can take steps to improve," she explained.
"In the same way that avoiding things like smoking, excess alcohol or a poor diet can help to reduce the risk of developing some forms of dementia and cognitive decline, so can looking after our emotional wellbeing by managing stress, establishing meaningful connections with people, doing new activities or getting a good night’s sleep."
Abrahams added that keeping our hearts healthy helps us maintain our thinking skills later on in life. That's why staying active and moving lots is so incredibly important. "Staying active isn't just about working up a sweat or running marathons, it can also be moving more each day at our own pace and in whatever way works. Being even modestly active helps give your wellbeing a boost and maintains bone strength, muscle strength, and coordination.”
Abrahams previously told Bored Panda that it is very important to eat a varied, nutritious diet, get plenty of movement, and maintain our social relationships. : “Eating a healthy diet, staying active for longer, protecting yourself against illness and staying connected to friends and family are great places to start in ensuring you stay healthy and happy as you get older."
“Keeping up our ties to friends and family and taking part in social activities is an important tool for helping us stay sharp as we age. Keeping active, in particular, has many benefits besides fighting off illness, such as: lowering the risk of depression and dementia or developing heart disease. It also reduces the likelihood of having a stroke, and lowers the risk of some cancers.”
Moving also helps keep our thinking skills (like problem-solving, decision-making, and remembering facts and words) sharp. It’s never too late to start taking care of ourselves better and to aim for success.