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A Pirate Looks at 40

Which isn’t to say I’d like to re-live my life over again, or would do things differently. Every difficult time I’ve gone through has taught me something – something I may have never learned otherwise. Without those lessons, I may not have gotten to the place I am today.

When I was 10 years younger, I had regrets. But not any more. I’ve learned that life is for living right now and looking forward to your future, not reliving your past and your past mistakes. I now realize that every decision I made – for better or worse – led me on the specific path to get me to where I am today.

I also understand something now very important I had no understanding of at 20 — the quiet value of compromise. Compromise is a far more flexible and powerful tool than most people realize, especially when we’re young. We think, “Compromise? Meh… That’s for people who don’t know what they want or are sell-out’s or can’t stand up for what they believe in.” The truth is that compromise shows strength of character and is a key to successful relationships of virtually any kind.

But as in all things in a good life, compromise must be done in moderation. Too much, and you become a push-over for others. Too little, and you’re close-minded and selfish.

And while I’m thinking of it, moderation cannot be stressed enough either. We get ourselves into so much trouble when our lives become out of balance. Moderation in all things. It’s been repeated since the ninth century B.C. in ancient Greece because the sooner we learn this particular lesson of life, the happier our lives will be.

I now try to look at every new opportunity with an open mind and fewer preconceptions. I am a better student than I have ever been in my life (especially than when I was in school), hungry for new knowledge and understanding. Not just about “things,” but about myself, my own meaning, the infinite connections we make in this world, and how they all fit together.

Everyday when I awake, I realize something I never understood when I was 20 – I know virtually nothing. The sum of all of my life’s knowledge and experience could fit onto the head of a single pin in a great land of a million haystacks.

So I embrace 40 like a newborn child – a child playing pirates, if you will — in many ways, looking at the world through eyes that now know better, but still know so very little. Living life more day to day than I have ever lived in the past. And very much looking forward to what the next 40 years have to offer.

* * *

I wouldn’t be where I am today without the never-ending love and support of my family, my dear friends spread out across the country, and my fabulous wife Nancy. Their constant friendship and fellowship help keep me sane, grounded, and serve as a constant reminder to me of the great beauty and love in this world. As do the thousands of members who go to make up the thriving self-help groups we host here, our Forums and NeuroTalk communities. Thank you all! 🙂

A Pirate Looks at 40

John M. Grohol, Psy.D.

Dr. John Grohol is the founder of Psych Central. He is a psychologist, author, researcher, and expert in mental health online, and has been writing about online behavior, mental health and psychology issues since 1995. Dr. Grohol has a Master's degree and doctorate in clinical psychology from Nova Southeastern University. Dr. Grohol sits on the editorial board of the journal Computers in Human Behavior and is a founding board member of the Society for Participatory Medicine. You can learn more about Dr. John Grohol here.

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APA Reference
Grohol, J. (2018). A Pirate Looks at 40. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 1, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 10 Sep 2008)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
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