Why Elders Smile

The essence of a recently published article by David Brooks, “Why Elders Smile”

I smiled when I read this article.

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“When researchers ask people to assess their own well-being, people in their 20s rate themselves highly. Then there’s a decline as people get sadder in middle age, bottoming out around age 50. But then happiness levels shoot up, so that old people are happier than young people. The people who rate themselves most highly are those ages 82 to 85″.

David goes onto to say, “I’d rather think that elder happiness is an accomplishment, not a condition, that people get better at living through effort, by mastering specific skills. I’d like to think that people get steadily better at handling life’s challenges”.

And here’s a list of David’s thoughts on why so many elder rank themselves as happiest in their later ages:

(1) They’ve learned how “to perform at least one social role well … being a good parent or teacher or lawyer or friend.”

(2) “The ability to see the same situation from multiple perspectives. Only with experience can a person learn to see a fraught situation both close up, with emotional intensity, and far away, with detached perspective.”

(3) Having learned that “most setbacks are not the end of the world”.

(4) “Anxiety is the biggest waste in life. If you know that you’ll recover, you can save time and get on with it sooner”.

(5) The ability to” balance tension”s (i.e. as in performing many social roles means balancing competing demands). This form of wisdom can only be earned by acquiring a repertoire of similar experiences.

(6) “Experienced heads have intuitive awareness of the landscape of reality, a feel for what other people are thinking and feeling, an instinct for how events will flow”

CLICK HERE if you’d like to read the full article.

May we all experience more and more well being as we grow,