With each passing birthday, the same cards tease about age with copy like “over the hill” and never ending geriatric jibes. Each passing year brings more dread, more anxiety about getting older, right? Statistically, no! Studies suggest that for most, happiness peaks in the early 20s, followed by a nosedive into middle age. However, somewhere around the age of 60 the “happiness dive” slows and begins to rise again, and by the age of 70 people are back at the happiness levels of their 20’s. After that, it’s increasing happiness all the way.
How can this be? It’s impossible to avoid the fact that with the passing of time life delivers a series of losses. These affect one’s physical state, emotional being, and mental clarity. However, age brings with it a certain experience and wisdom that helps seniors to appropriately deal with these difficult issues.
Getting older does not inherently endow a person with increasing happiness. It is the many years of experience held by older people that teaches them how to better deal with the various situations that life throws at them. Age brings the realization that life is not about accumulating more “stuff,” it’s about being happy with the “stuff” that already exists. How to be “happy” is much more clearly understood. Seniors are more accepting. When one is no longer driven by the desire to buy more material things, it seems that creates a freedom that increases happiness on a personal, emotional, and psychological level.
Some see old age as a clearer realization of “the clock ticking.” While this isn’t true for all seniors, getting to a certain age in life certainly allows one to evaluate what is truly important. “Happiness” is the go-to word for anyone talking about how to live a better life. Older people know better. They know that happiness isn’t about a life free of troubles. The wisdom that comes with age has taught them that no matter who you are, young or old, rich or poor, life presents beauty and ugliness, pleasure and pain. The art of happiness is how a person responds when trouble hits.
Happiness grows over a lifetime of success and failure, mistakes and missteps, change and discovery. Seniors shouldn’t let a few wrinkles get them down. There is no need to buy into the commercial proliferation of aging stereotypes. The older years hold a certain freedom and the ability to do what one wants, whenever one wants to. Happiness increases health and well-being, and can make us thankful for a long life well lived.