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Age and Happiness

PostedOctober 24, 2016

We all have to deal with getting older. Yeah, losing one of the few non-replenishable assets we are all born with: Time … can be brutal!
As people move towards old age, they lose many of the things they treasure – vitality, mental sharpness and looks – so far sooo familiar, right?! – But, they also gain what people spend their life pursuing; Happiness.

So, are people less happy, or happier, as they get older? If you answered happier, then you were right, based on a study published in The Journal of Clinical Psychology. In fact, this study found that by the age of 85, people are happier with their life than at age 18!

Research from the University of New South Wales in Australia confirmed that happiness peaks in the mid 20’s and then dips as one gets to middle age, and peaks again at age 65. Why?

Despite our obsession with youth, it turns out that the 20’s and 30’s are generally a very stressful time for many young adults who are plagued with anxiety and depression. The decline in happiness begins around the same time we begin employment, not surprising, right? Establishing a career, finding a life partner, raising kids, and navigating financial issues takes its toll on our mental well-being.

Happiness has often been described by researchers as the sum of our reality divided by our expectations. This is to say we have certain expectations in our youth and when our reality doesn’t match it in our 30’s and 40’s we mentally and unconsciously compare the two and become unhappy because “Life has not panned out the way we wanted.”

This game we call life isn’t a downhill decline as we get older, it’s more like a U-curve, with pretty much the best saved for later. Positive beliefs about getting older and happiness is so important, because if younger adults mispredict old age as miserable, they may make risky decisions, not worrying about preserving themselves for what they believe will be an unhappy future.

Why does life truly get better with age? The older we get the more we appreciate the little things in life. Young people tend to seek out extraordinary experiences to help them to build a greater sense of personal identity, where older adults assign value to everyday pleasures – living in the moment. Older adults have already accomplished their major goals and can let go and enjoy the ride.

Also, ageing gives us an opportunity to accept who we are – to feel comfortable in our own skin. That acceptance brings diminished anxiety and a higher degree of enjoyment. Encouraging, don’t you think?

All of the studies suggest something kind of obvious: We are happiest when we get the things we really want in life – material, emotional, physical and spiritual. But we can accomplish many of those things at any age, which might explain the many “happiest ages.”

Perhaps a more attainable and sustainable goal is to find what our triggers for happiness are, and to make those a priority. Also, remember, those triggers may change over time – and that’s okay.
So, happiness … When do we get a bigger slice of it? Truthfully, our happiest age may be when we finally realize what makes us happy, and just go for it!

Source: www.economist.com, www.refinery29.com, time.com, learningenglish.voanews.com, www.latimes.com, www.huffingtonpost.com, kulray.org, vauxhaullmagazine.com, www.telegraph.co.uk

DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms or need health advice, please consult a healthcare professional.