It seems the senior years might truly be golden! At least that’s what a new study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry revealed when it discovered that older adults tend to be happier with their lives and less stressed than younger adults.
The study surveyed a random sampling of 1546 people ranging in age from 21 to 100 in the San Diego area. The findings were that mental wellbeing tended to improve with age, regardless of the fact that seniors tend to have more physical and cognitive issues. These findings are somewhat surprising, but it’s certainly comforting to know that while our physical and cognitive health might decline as we get older, our mental health/happiness will likely increase!
What could be the reasons for these surprising findings? In a nutshell, it seems that the wisdom we acquire as we get older is the answer. As we age, we seek less approval from others, and come to know and accept ourselves more than we do when we are younger. Things don’t tend to affect us as greatly as they do when we are younger (when everything seems like the end of the world). We also have the benefit of making smarter decisions, which can certainly lead to more happiness. With the perspective that is gained from life experience comes greater emotional balance, which leads to more happiness, satisfaction and wellbeing.
People in their twenties reported the highest levels of depression, stress and anxiety. This is likely because of all the demands that are on them. From financial concerns, to career stress, to educational stress, and the demands of starting a family in the midst of all that other stress, there is no shortage of pressure on young people these days. Plus, young people often feel they have to compare themselves to others and compete to have more than others. Younger people can certainly raise their level of happiness by learning to manage their emotions, meditating, being more active, and spending time with happy people and seniors who can share their wisdom with them.
There are, perhaps, some generational differences that could be causing these variances in happiness since the study simply surveyed people of different ages instead of following people over time to see if they became happier as they got older. Younger generations do have more expectations to contend with these days thanks to technology and all of the opportunities that are available now.