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What is happiness in Life, are older people happier with age?

Updated on September 25, 2012

Better With Age

Often ageing is viewed as a time when we become isolated, depressed and unhappy. Is this really true? Laura Carstensen says NO, older people say they re happier. From a developmental stand point we are better equiped to handle life's ups and downs through our experiences. While happiness is defined by each individual for that individual, older people in general view life experiences from a more positive perspective.

When we recognize that we don't have all the time in the world, we see our priorities most clearly.” (Laura Carstensen)

Have You Lost Your Marbles?

We do not slip into an unrealistic mental state as we age. We may simply grow into the world around us and develop a happier state because we come to understand that time is too short for us to invest our time in negative thoughts and emotions. We have developed a perspective that allows us to handle conflict and adversity using a more balanced yard stick to define our emotional investment in life's scenerios.


How do We Define Happiness?

As we age, we may change our idea of what happiness. Early in life happiness may be a short term emotional high associated with a single moment, say getting a new bike, car or making a new friend. As we move through life's experiences our paradyme shifts to one of well being as an overall indicator of happiness, our life develops meaning, shifting from an imediate feeling of happiness to an all-embracing feeling of joy.

Happiness and Quality of Life

It is likely that our quality of life improves as we age, we develop into our roles and relationships becoming a part of our families and communities creating meaning for our life. Consider these indicators for quality of life:

  • Health and socioeconomic status. As we age our education and income change and with that change our health often improves. While this is not true for everyone, research shows socioeconomic status is the strongest predictor of health as we age.

  • Marital Status. Married people experience higher quality of life than single people. Marriage brings feelings of comfort and connection for many of us, adding to our feelings of happiness.

  • Activities. Any kind of activity improves our quality of life--physical, social or a combination of both. People who are more active experience a higher level of quality in their life.
  • Social integration. Developing into multiple roles is reported by adults as having a positive affect on feelings of well being. For example attending a religious service is a strong indicator of positive well-being.

This list is not an all enclusive list of the predictors of quality of life, it is a sample of milestones and behaviors we develop as we age that contribute to our quality of life. Many are developed as we age and provide a certain feeling of control over our life that result in feeling happier.

Are You Happy Now?

How happy do you feel at this moment?

See results


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    • Johan Smulders profile image

      Johan Smulders 5 years ago from East London, South Africa

      At 70, well nearly I have had 9 years of retirement and have loved it.Enjoyed your article

    • profile image

      donnaMhicks 5 years ago

      So many of us waste so much time and energy trying to make others happy, that we fail to realize that the only person we have control over is ourselves!

    • Amaryllis profile image

      Lesley Charalambides 5 years ago from New Hampshire

      One of the best things about aging is that you realize that you know what you want, so yes, in some ways I am much happier now because I cut out the stuff I don't like so much.

      I've also realised that I don't have to feel unhappy if I don't want to, and that was the best change of all. Shame I had to get to fifty before I really got that!

    • profile image

      mours sshields 5 years ago from Elwood, Indiana

      I am 53 and am happier than I've ever been!! Things started getting even happier for me in my late 40's.

      I know what I want out of life and feel more content than


      Marcia Ours