Who's Happy Now?
Those of us over a certain age know there are some aspects of aging that are more challenging than others. For this similarly attired group , I might include clothing choices. Yet it looks like they are enjoying themselves, and, after all, happiness is where you find it.
I was talking to an older friend about aging and he said: “A good day is when I wake up with no new pains.” It was Bette Davis who said: “Old age is not for sissies.” Those golden years, like those golden arches may not be all they are cracked up to be, although the years might loosen up your personal dress code. But that could be a for better or worse thing.
Yet, with all the trials that aging can bring turns out there is also some good news. In a study published in 2016 by the University of California San Diego (UCSD) School Center for Healthy Aging they found that people’s mental health gets better over time. While our bodies are aging, our attitude about it is better than it ever was. According to Dr Dilip Jeste, the Director of the Center, participants in the study “reported they felt better about themselves and their lives year upon year, decade after decade.”
The study was written up in a UCSD newsletter where they wrote:
The reasons for improved positive mental health in old age are not clear. Some previous research has shown older adults become more adept at coping with stressful changes. They learn, said Jeste, “not to sweat out the little things. And a lot of previously big things become little.” However, another important explanation may be increased wisdom with age. A number of studies have shown that older individuals tend to be more skilled at emotional regulation and complex social decision-making. They also experience and retain fewer negative emotions and memories.
While the reasons for the mood upswing may not be entirely clear, the benefits are relieving. It is good to know that if you had your current aches and pains when you were younger, it would have been way more upsetting. Now you have better skills to take things in stride. You appreciate what you have going for you, more than you lament what you don't. Days become more precious and you might as well make the best of them than the worst of them. Optimism outlives pessimism. Life may not be all you want it to be, but it is still yours to live.
The lesson of longevity is learning how to make the most of what you have. People release much of their negativity that they had carried with them. They can navigate the social and emotional terrain better than ever. While life may not be easier, it is handled better so that they net effect is people feel better about their life as they age. That really is golden.
And the good news/bad news is every day we all are getting older so hopefully we are all gaining some of the benefits.