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Happiness Makes Old Age Cooler

2 comments | June 27th, 2012

(OOC via psychologytoday.com)

This getting older thing can be funny.  Seems few of us want to do it, and our milestone birthdays often seem like millstones around the necks of our happy (or maybe it's just our longevity).
 
It's stranger still when you consider, as this reasearch did , that it's those over 60 who are the happiest amongst us.  Or at least they're the happiest amongst the Brits, where the research was conducted.  From the psychologytoday article:
 
"Research on the happiness of different age groups in the UK has found – surprisingly, it might seem at first – that it's actually the over 60s. This research showed that happiness levels are quite high in the 20s, then dip through the 30s and reach their lowest point in the mid-forties. But after 50, they start to rise, and continue rising through the 60s, when they become even higher than young people's. Similarly, a recent world wide survey found that, so long as they are in fairly good health, 70 year olds throughout the world are on average as happy and mentally healthy as 20 year olds."

No doubt you're sitting there reading this, thinking, why invest in wrinkle cream and Botox if you're going to be happy anyway?  Alright, you're probably not thinking that but perhaps some of you are wondering why happiness tends to increase at this point in life. Here you go with another excerpt from the original article:

"…In fact, the happiness of old age is a good illustration of the fallacy of our culture's normal view of happiness. We fear old age because we see it as a process of loss, of having to let go of things which we depend on for our well-being. But it's this very process which actually causes the well-being of our later years.

In old age, a large number of the psychological attachments which normally support our sense of identity fall away. One of the major ones is the attachment to hopes and ambitions. At the end of their working lives, knowing that they may not have many years left, old people stop imagining alternative futures for themselves. They stop striving to become something else, and begin to accept themselves and their lives as they are. Rather than living for the future, they become more present-centred. In addition, they're likely to lose their attachment to their appearance, to become free of the pressure to ‘look good' and to stop using their looks as a way of seeking affirmation. They're also forced to give up their attachment to our careers, along with the status and identity they gave. And now that their children have left home, they're forced to give up their role as parent-carers too."

So okay now.  Based on this, it seems we spend a lot of our lives pursuing and holding on to those things that actually fight and hate on our happy.  We people can be so self-defeating.  Maybe it's not even just youth that's wasted on the young, but life that's wasted on the not-so-old?

Identity, attachment, hopes, ambitions…however old you are now, do you think these are the things that lift you up and keep you going, or are holding you back from being the happiest version of you that you can?  HOw do you feel about getting older; does it freak you out or welcome you with open arms?  Happiness.  #discuss. 

(You can read the entirety of the psychologytoday piece here, and we suggest you do.)

2 comments

  • Anonymous

    Posted on January 20, 2012

    As I read the beginning of this post I thought, “Older people aren’t worried about who they are going to be. Most of those decisions have been made.” I am in my 30’s, single and in a job I’m not loving, and I am totally freaked out about what my life is going to be!!!

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