Finally, some good news about aging!
A study conducted by researchers from the University of Warwick, backs up previous research showing that happiness levels form a U-curve, reaching their low point at around 45 years old but then increasing as we age.
For the study, experts evaluated the lifestyle and health patterns in more than 10,000 people in the U.S. and the UK. Saverio Stranges, the lead researcher, said
Happiness may increase with age because we develop "better coping abilities" to deal with hardship than younger people. Older people tend to have internal mechanisms to deal better with negative circumstances than those who are younger. And it could also be due to a lowering of expectations from life, with older people less likely to put pressure on themselves in the personal and professional spheres.
I hope this is true, especially the coping abilities part because that's where my handicap lies. Coping with extremely difficult situations (OK fine, maybe not even that "extreme") doesn't come easy for me. I get so stressed out that I am, in fact, seeing a therapist (for those of you who were worried about me for a second) because I recognized I needed to learn to cope more with…Hmm, how can I put this? Well, with life, I guess!
Here's the thing, as people age, they may not look as good, they may not move as fast, they probably have lower energy levels, they can't do anything in excess--but that doesn't necessarily mean that their mental well-being deteriorates too.
I look at my parents and I can see that the biggest pressure they had--me, of course (I was always more trouble than my brother)--is gone. When my father semi-retired, he had already achieved many things during his professional life, so he felt confident and happy.
I don't think is that older people have "lower expectations out of life," I just think that they had already fulfilled many of the goals they had set out for themselves. They probably built families and careers and now that their kids are grown and gone, they are off the hook and can be happier.
I also believe that the older you are the wiser you get. By no means am I in a rush to get older, but it gives me peace of mind to know that I might turn into an expert at "coping" and that I will be able to look back and think that I didn't do such a terrible job after all.
Until then, I'll just keep breathing in and breathing out…because my kids Juliana and Diego have a loooooong way to go.
How do you feel about aging? Do you look forward to it or does it scare you?
Image via maiqui maiqui/flickr