You may think that as you age, you have more to worry about. For example, concerns about your health, the economy, global pollution, your children, meeting day-to-day finances, let alone saving for retirement. The list goes on and on. So older adults should be less happy than when they were young – right?
Surprisingly, new research has shown the opposite. People actually become happier as they age. Overall, older adults in the 60s and 70s are happier than younger adults.
Why is this? Well, these grey-haired adults are better at finding ways of lifting their mood — for example not associating with negative people. Older people are also better at letting go the disappointment of unachieved goals. Instead, they focus on creating new goals such as those relating to health and wellness.
Even declining mental ability may actually help the elderly people to be positive. More limited brain functioning enables them to better remember and dwell on their good times. This also helps negative memories fade.
On the other hand, older adults may simply say they are just wiser having lived so long!
Whatever the reason, it’s good to know that we can expect to be happier as we get older.
Donna R. Addis, Christina M. Leclerc, Keely A. Muscatell, Elizabeth A. Kensinger. There are age-related changes in neural connectivity during the encoding of positive, but not negative, information. Cortex, 2010; 46 (4): 425
D. M. Isaacowitz. Mood Regulation in Real Time: Age Differences in the Role of Looking. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 2012; 21 (4): 237