We always hear so much about how hard it is to get older. We read about all the bad things that can – and do – happen and we see for ourselves first hand as our parents age, that life can become increasingly challenging.
What we don’t read about though so much are the positives of aging. And there are many of these. At least, there can be. So we are going to take a look at some of these and try to provide through this writing a sense of happiness in regard to the aging process.
The Elderly Accept Themselves How often in our 20s, 30s, 40s and even 50s do we look in the mirror and feel disappointed with our bodies? Not so much in our 70s and 80s. The elderly have got it right in a place where their younger counterparts have not. Rather than comparing their bodies to women on the catwalk, they are grateful their legs are able to take them on a long walk with their loved ones.
The Elderly Have More Realistic Expectations When your expectations are high, disappointments follow when they are not realized. As author of Women Rowing North: Navigating Life’s Currents and Flourishing as We Age, Mary Pipher pointed out:
Older women have learnt the importance of reasonable expectations. We know that all our desires will not be fulfilled, that the world isn’t organized around pleasing us and that others, especially our children, are not waiting for our opinions and judgements. We know that the joys and sorrows of life are as mixed together as salt and water in the sea. We don’t expect perfection or even relief from suffering. A good book, a piece of homemade pie or a call from a friend can make us happy. As my aunt Grace, who lived in the Ozarks, put it: “I get what I want, but I know what to want.”
Mental Health Can Get Better A study in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry conducted a study of 1,546 adults between the ages of 21 to 100. It found an indication of: “the possibility of a linear improvement in mental health beginning in young adulthood rather than a U-shaped curve reported in some prior studies. Lifespan research combining psychosocial and biological markers may improve our understanding of resilience to mental disability in older age and lead to broad-based interventions promoting mental health in all age groups.”
Happiness Increases As we age, we tend to trust others more. Guards seem to be put down more as people get older and the more trusting we become, the happier we are likely to be. Financial stress is usually less (mortgages have been paid off; offspring are independent) and that also helps happiness. Negative emotions are let go and one is able to focus much more on positive events.
Other studies have also looked at the link between aging and happiness. They’ve found that as we get older, we become more trusting, and people who trust others are more likely to be happier.
Older people often have increased financial well-being, so that takes the monetary element out of the stress equation. In addition, they tend to let go of negative emotions and focus on positive events.
Headaches Ease Shockingly there can be some improvements in health as one ages. A study conducted by the American Headache Society found that: “Headaches might become less frequent and less severe as people age, and people with migraine may become less sensitive to noise, light and smells over time.”
So remember, given that aging is a fact of life (unless one doesn’t make it!) there are many positives. As in all situations in life, it’s much better to focus on them, than the negatives.