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Happiness Increases With Age

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Live Longer and be happier….

A growing body of research suggests that the longer you live, the happier you’ll become. Researchers who spoke at the recent annual convention of the American Psychological Association in Toronto, announced that mental health generally improves with age.

Reporting on several studies of aging and mental health, Susan Turk Charles, a professor at the University of California, Irvine, said ‘the findings indicate that happiness and emotional well-being improve with time.’

elderly more happy than young adults Happiness Increases With Age

Charles explained that older adults exert greater emotional care, avoiding or limiting stressful situations. And unlike younger adults, the elderly are less likely to let negative comments or criticism bother them:

“We know that older people are increasingly aware that the time they have left in life is growing shorter. They want to make the best of it so they avoid engaging in situations that will make them unhappy. They have also had more time to learn and understand the intentions of others, which helps them to avoid these stressful situations.”

Charles cited another study conducted over a 23-year period which examined three groups of people at three different life stages. These results also concluded that emotional happiness grew with age.

These findings may not apply to older adults who feel trapped in distressing situations and those with forms of dementia, Charles said:

“We know that older adults who are dealing with chronic stressors, such as caregiving, report high rates of physical symptoms and emotional distress,”

In separate reports, Charles and Laura Carstensen, a psychology professor at Stanford University, also noted that social relationships – or lack of them – influence how older people respond to stress.

Carstensen cited a Swedish study that concluded that people with strong social connections were less likely to suffer cognitive impairment than others. It seems social relationships influence the way that the brain processes information, she said:

“These changes have a profound impact on health outcomes,” Carstensen said.

To make the most of the coming years, Carstensen offered these tips:

  • Think of ways to enjoy the time ahead and try to imagine living 100, healthy, happy years.
  • Provide daily routines that reinforce your goals, both in your home and in your social life.
  • Develop new activities and relationships, and don’t invest all of your emotional energy in a job or a single relationship.

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