Happiness… as you age.

The following was taken from an article in the May 2013 edition of More magazine (“How to find happiness at any age”, by Lindsy Van Gelder).

Ms. Gelder writes, “As I got older, I found it easier to be happy…sometimes by appreciating things that were once barely on my radar….There is the theory that experience counts.  “You get more realistic, ” says  Dr. Corey Keyes, professor of sociology at Emory University, “You get to a point where you realize that a lot of your dreams haven’t come true…and that’s fine.  You stop thinking you have to be the leader of your company.  You realize you don’t have the perfect family or the perfect kids.  And …you know what? Your kids are ok the way they are.”

“Some neuroscientists believe we grow happier at least in part because of changes in the frontal lobes of our brains.  Teenagers, whose lobes are still developing, and older people, whose lobes have started to deteriorate, tend to discount bad news and believe it doesn’t apply to them – which makes them happier.  But where does that leave people in midlife? The unfortunate answer is: at the bottom of the happiness trough.  This notion – that midlife is harder than the years that come before and after – have serious support in the world of social science.  A study of half a million adults in 72 countries, published in the journal Social Science and Medicine, found there’s a well-being “U-bend” in almost every culture: care-free young people, a lot of contented seniors and dismay in the middle.  The turn may happen at different times in different societies but the bobby pin shape remains consistent. (The authors have documented that there’s a similar midlife happiness dip for chimpanzees and orangutans.).

“If you’re in your fifties, feel free to cheer up: Your life will probably only get better.  If you’re in your thirties or forties, then, sorry, things may get worse before the sun comes out.  How soon life improves depends partly on your own attitude.  If you accept that maybe you’ll never be a member of Congress or open for the boss, you can shake off a lot of stress and angst.  Then go outdoors and admire the stars. “Happiness is best thought of as a skill.” says sociologist Christine Carter at the University of California, Berkeley.  Another quick route to happiness: Try to be realistic about your kids.  “Modern parents have really high expectations that our own parents didn’t have for a level of involvement in our kids’ lives and they take their children’s failures very personally.”


Things to consider…


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