Aging is a fact of life. And it is definitely better than the alternative, according to Maurice Chevalier. Many people worry about aging. Or perhaps it is that they are afraid of aging badly. However, good news is that there is a link between happiness and age. We do actually become happier as we age. Good news indeed.
So, there is a lot we can do to age better. One of those things is to try to become happier and more content with our life. As there is a correlation between happiness and age, how do we better our mood and improve our old age?.
The secret to joy and happiness isn’t really a secret at all. It comes when we learn to live a balanced, unshackled life, which is what happens as we grow older.
On the negative side, as we age, we do lose things like mental sharpness, clarity, strong bones and vitality. But we make up for this loss as we gain the one thing most people desire deeply - happiness.
Our mindset alters as we age too. Social psychologists explain the changes we go through in mindset as we age, as a shift from promotion motivation to prevention motivation. The former is when we’re young and have goals that depend on what we can gain from life.
The latter is when we make our goals with as little risk and loss as possible to keep our lives running smoothly and make everyone around us happy. We realize our responsibilities have increased and that others are depending on us more.
We also want to be surrounded by the things we worked so hard to acquire.
It could also be that we start accepting who we really are, without succumbing to media’s idea of whom we should really be or what we should look like. Finding that feeling of self is actually quite a relief.
As the philosopher, William James, puts it, “How pleasant is the day when we give up striving to be young—or slender.”
And that serenity translates into happiness which is far from putting flowers in your hair and singing all day long. It means having a clear sense of reality, acceptance and freedom from all the restrictions society forces on us.
But being happy isn’t just for the sake of feeling good. Its benefits go much further than that. Experts have proven that happiness makes us healthier. Happy people get sick less often because they have a strong immune system.
Also, according to a study carried out by John Weinman, professor of psychiatry at King's College London, happy people heal faster if they’ve suffered an injury because their body’s determined to heal itself.
Plus, their positive outlook on life is a contributing factor as well. Another researcher at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Sheldon Cohen, infected people with the cold and flu virus. He discovered that happy people get sick less often and if they do, they show less symptoms than those who not as cheery.
Another advantage to living a contented, joyful life is that it gets people to be more productive. A study was carried out on 2 separate groups of people; one group was shown a funny film prior to completing a series of mental questions, while the second group was not shown any film, or a film that was neutral, rather than funny.
The first group did almost 12% better than the second group. This goes to show that when “feel good” hormones are released by the brain, they give a jump-start to actually get some work done.
An important conduit for the joy we have in our lives is the people we surround ourselves with. Research shows that those who were in warm, loving relationships suffered less emotional and physical pain. They also live longer, happier lives. This could be because they take care of health by eating right, exercising and avoiding smoking and drinking in excess. They also have a strong social support system. Good relationships that make us feel secure, happy and content not only protect our bodies, but our brains as well. Those in unhappy relationships suffered more emotionally and physically. Loneliness and resentment are as potent as alcoholism or drugs.
“Good relationships don’t just protect our bodies; they protect our brains,” says Robert Waldinger. “And those good relationships, they don’t have to be smooth all the time.
Some of our octogenarian couples could bicker with each other day in and day out, but as long as they felt that they could really count on the other when the going got tough, those arguments didn’t take a toll on their memories.”
There are many contributing factors that determine our levels of happiness for any one being - gender, ethnicity, education, health, wealth, and family history.
Obviously, most of those we can't change! So, spend your time trying to improve the things that you can change.
It can be good news that happiness and age are linked. I think that the good news is that joy comes with age, no matter what we lived through when we were younger. Some of our memories can hurt when we look back through time, but concentrate on where you are now. It’s a time in your life of lost innocence, a sense of hope and belief that has been seasoned with time, and a contentment and happiness that has evolved and grown with time, just like you.
So let's all age better by being happy. What are your recommendations for increasing your happiness?