Will You Get Happier as You Grow Older?

Lauren Carsterson, director of the Stanford Center on Longevity and professor of psychology, says that people do get happier (most times) as they age.  Carstenson believes that the reason we feel happier as we get older is because as we age we feel we have less time left so we tend to focus on well-being.  Don’t wait to be old to be happier, start being happier today.

In a word – yes (if you’re part of the statistical average).

Laura Carstensen, director of the Stanford Center on Longevity and a professor of psychology at Stanford University, says that people do generally get happier as they age. Here’s a quote from Professor Carstensen from the Wall Street Journal based upon her research:

“How often one feels sad, angry, disgusted, contemptuous — that frequency declines. And in addition to that, when negative emotions occur, they don’t last as long.”

If happiness increases with age, does unhappiness increase as well?

Not generally. Peter Ubel, a professor of medicine and psychology at the University of Michigan, said:

I know a lot of unhappy 80-year-olds, but if you look, on average there are a lot more grumpy young men than grumpy old men, they should all get their hands on, maybe that will help them change a bit. We just don’t call them grumpy. We call them angry or irritable.”

Why do people experience greater happiness as they age? Ms. Carstensen believes that it relates to an individual’s desire to make the most of the time he/she has remaining.

“When people perceive time is limited, they focus more on well-being,” she says. “They get rid of the riff-raff in their lives and select the people who are most important.”

So … if you’re unhappy today, do you need to wait a few (or more) years to achieve the happiness you desire? Absolutely not. If you wait for happiness, it simply means that you haven’t started living.

My suggestion? Start living today.

  • Know yourself and what defines fulfillment in your life,
  • Identify your personal and professional goals,
  • Honor what inspires you, and
  • Recognize what supports your self-esteem and what you need to do to keep your relationships satisfying.

Thanks to Bryan C. Fleming for including me in his 95 Personal Growth Articles – 50th Edition, Mystic Eye for inclusion in the Mystic Eye Blog Carnival, and Credit Card Lowdown for inclusion in the Carnival of Money, Growth, and Happiness.

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