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Does Getting Older Make People Happier?


Many people do not look forward to getting older, and will instead do everything in their power, including resorting to plastic surgery, to escape the hands of time. But what if all our fears of aging -- and our preconceived notions that it means we will be dependant on others, lonely and unfulfilled, slower mentally and crumbling physically -- are actually unfounded?

People in their 80s and 90s generally report being happier than younger people.

What if getting older would actually make us happier?

As it turns out, the “golden years” are aptly named as numerous studies show people do get happier as they get older.

New research presented at the American Psychological Association’s 2009 annual meeting found that people in their 80s and 90s generally report being happier than younger people, and feel less negative emotion such as sadness, anxiety and anger.

Susan Turk Charles, a psychologist at the University of California, Irvine, pointed out several reasons why happiness may increase with age, including that older adults:

  • May better regulate their emotions, avoiding negative experiences and limiting their exposure to stressful situations

  • Interact mostly with close friends and family members, which may lead to more positive social experiences and increased well-being compared to interactions with new acquaintances.

  • Typically do not have exposure to work stress.

  • Are generally treated with respect, and may be less likely to be confronted with an argument.

  • Limit the time they spend thinking about negative things and focus on positive aspects instead.

  • May think of memories in a more positive light.

This is far from the first study to suggest that age may lead to a brighter outlook.

Research by Yang Yang, a University of Chicago sociologist, published in American Sociological Review, involved 28,000 people between the ages of 18 and 88. The findings were based on face-to-face interviews that took place periodically from 1972 to 2004.

While overall happiness levels fluctuated during the study period, at every stage older Americans were the happiest. Further:

  • The likelihood of being happy increased 5 percent with every 10 years of age.

  • About 33 percent of Americans said they were very happy at age 88, compared to just 24 percent of those aged 18 to early 20s.

"The good news is that with age comes happiness," Yang told USA Today. "Life gets better in one's perception as one ages."

How to Make Aging a Graceful Process for You

“It's never too late to change the two most important ingredients to graceful aging -- attitude and lifestyle,” says meditation expert Mary Maddux, whose guided meditations are featured on the Pure Relaxation CD.

You can choose to accept aging with gusto and embrace it as a natural and joyful part of your life, a choice that becomes easier when you let go of some common myths surrounding the aging process. Here Maddux debunks some common aging myths once and for all:

Your attitude and lifestyle are the two most important ingredients for graceful aging.

  • Myth #1 - The older I get, the worse my body will feel. The increasing stiffness and aches & pains that often come with age are not a result of age, but are due to lack of movement (if you don't use it, you'll lose it). Although there are some changes in our tissues as we age, we can continue to remain remarkably flexible and free of pain through something as simple as regular stretching.

  • Myth #2 - It's too late to start taking care of myself ... it won't do any good at this age. A healthy lifestyle has been found to be one of the most important factors in how we age. Improvements in lifestyle (with the 3 key areas being good food, exercise and regular relaxation and rest) will bring improvements at any age.

  • Myth #3 - I'm getting too old to learn new things ("You can't teach an old dog new tricks") Research shows that older people can, and do, learn new things. Attitude plays an important role here - if you think you can't, you won't try. People who believe they can learn new things do!

  • Myth #4 - Sex is only for the young. People can, and do, continue to enjoy sex well into their senior years. We are sexual beings throughout the life cycle, but sexuality is experienced differently at different ages. Changes in hormones will affect our experience of sex, and we may need to find different ways to be intimate. Relaxation is key here so that we don't panic when things don't happen the way they used to. We're not "over the hill", but simply need to give ourselves some "breathing room" to become familiar with our changing physiologies.

  • Myth #5 - The older I get, the less attractive I become. There is nothing more attractive than someone who has "aged well." Haven't you ever noticed that special "radiance" of an elderly person who is at peace with themselves and life? Attractiveness has absolutely nothing to do with age!

Three Steps to Living Healthy at Any Age

SheaNetics: Your Pathway to Well-Being at Any Age

Combine the benefits of stress relief and regular exercise into one with SheaNetics.

SheaNetics realizes your goal is to find total health and fulfillment that is life lasting. This can be achieved by creating harmony in body, mind and self. SheaNetics gives you the practical tools to get into shape and reach ever higher levels of fitness and well-being.

Each nearly one hour workout is a new blend of the-best-of-the-best from Yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi, Martial Arts, Gyro-Kinesis, Dance and MORE -- guiding you through unique sequences of movements that strengthen, sculpt, build core and increase flexibility!

Separately (Each) List Price ($95.95)
Your Special Price Now Just $69.95!*

Order your 6-PACK SheaNetics DVD/CD workout collection today!

As Maddux points out, leading a healthy lifestyle is also key to keep enjoying your life well into your golden years.

Some easy ways to take charge of your lifestyle in a positive way right now include:

  1. Eat a Healthy Diet, With Lots of Antioxidants. Antioxidants can be vitamins, minerals or enzymes, and they exist in foods (fruits, vegetables, nuts and other whole foods) and certain supplements. Want some help to fortify your diet with antioxidants? Check out our past article for a list of the top 20 antioxidant foods and six disease-fighting super antioxidants.

  1. Exercise Regularly. Exercise at a level that's comfortable for you, and do it regularly, rather than overdoing it by exercising too often or too strenuously.

An excellent addition to any exercise routine, simple as it may sound, is stretching. A few well-performed stretches can do wonders for your body and your mind. If you want to learn 15 stretches that stretch all the key muscles groups throughout your entire body, get the top-recommend Stretching for a Healthy Life DVD (with FREE shipping for a limited time).

  1. Relax and Find Ways to Relieve Stress. Trying to fit too many tasks into a day, or filling your time with too many stressful activities, will wear you down, no matter how many fruits and vegetables you eat. Organize your life so you have time to appreciate little enjoyments, spend time with family and friends who make you feel good, and take time for yourself when you need it.

You can also incorporate exercise and stress relief into one with the mind-body fitness routine called SheaNetics.

SheaNetics, founded by fitness expert Shea Vaughn, blends ancient and contemporary movements with eastern philosophy, creating a stylized approach to fitness designed to improve the quality of today’s western living.

The range of SheaNetics™ students is impressively diverse from 25- to 75-year-olds, men and women, fitness buffs and athletes, people who want to get in shape, those who wish to maintain their present state of fitness and many who want to take it to a higher level.

This program is truly unlike any other fitness program. This is "meditation in motion and thought." It reduces stress and allows you to enjoy a lifestyle of fitness, personal balance and well-being.

We encourage you to check out Shea’s new 6-Disc DVD/CD workout set to "get started on your pathway to well-being” no matter what your age!

This groundbreaking DVD collection contains:

  • 3 core-building, mind-boosting, complete body-charging workouts!

  • As a FREE GIFT you will also receive 3 empowering, "original music" CDs specially composed to power up your journey!

  • You also receive the SheaNetics Booklet with The Five Living Principles -- a life-changing guide to finding Your Pathway to Well-Being!

Sheanetics has nearly sold out and told us that they will soon no longer offer this value of combined DVDs and CDs. They plan to break this set up into individual DVDs and CDs, each costing as much as one half this price or more, which could make this total package as much as three times the price or more.

So we recommend you buy NOW before this offer is no longer available!

Separately (Each) List Price ($95.95)
Your Special Price Now Just $69.95!*

Find Out More and Order SheaNetics at Your Pathway to Well-Being Now!

Recommended Reading

5 Behaviors That Promote Healthy Living Past Age 90

Aging Gracefully: Enjoy a Vital, Fulfilling Life Regardless of Age

Sources August 11, 2009 April 18, 2008

ABC News June 21, 2006

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