Contrary to what you might think – growing older for most of us can be a positive thing. In fact getting older could be the key to happiness!
If that sounds unlikely – research is telling us different. Forget about the downsides of the aging process and look forward to the fact that over 50 you are likely to feel more content with your lot.
The key to happiness in later life may be as simple as focusing on small pleasures and living in the moment.
That isn’t just wishful thinking – Mina Shahriary explains the results of a recently published survey on aging, and happiness:
When we think about getting older, the picture that comes to mind tends to center around the physical signs that our bodies are slowing down.
Even if we have taken excellent care of our health throughout the years, we expect (and often fear) the inevitable — wrinkles, aches and pains, forgetfulness.
It’s no secret that in our culture, we tend to cast a negative light on the aging process. Aging is not often portrayed as a time of increased wisdom, enlightenment and joy.
But according to new study findings published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, for the majority of us, our happiness increases as we get older.
Researchers from Princeton University compiled data from a Gallup poll of 340,847 Americans, aged 18 to 85 years.
By the time we’re 85, most of us are more satisfied with our lives than we were at age 18.
They found that although enjoyment and happiness tend to decline gradually until we reach about the age of 50, they rise steadily beginning at age 50 until age 75, with only a slight decrease in happiness between 75 and 85.
The researchers tried to link the results to four variables: gender, living with children, having a partner and employment. But they were unable to do so, and did not come up with an obvious explanation as to why happiness increases after age 50.
I think one explanation could be that as we get older, we tend to start focusing more on simply “living in the present” and doing things that bring us immediate joy, rather than worrying about how we will achieve our goals in life.
“It could be that there are environmental changes, or it could be psychological changes about the way we view the world, or it could even be biological — for example brain chemistry or endocrine changes,” said Dr. Arthur A. Stone, the study’s lead author and a professor of psychology at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.
Dr. Stone thinks more research is warranted. “These results say there are distinctive patterns here, and it’s worth some research effort to try to figure out what’s going on. Why at age 50 does something seem to start to change?”
Mina’s great article first appeared in the Live in The Now Blog. Seems to me that with all the negative spin around growing older. It’s wonderful to see a study that shows life over 50 does have its upsides!