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9 Habits You Can Cultivate to Prevent Turning into a Grumpy Old Woman

By Michele Meier Vosberg August 09, 2022 Mindset

You probably know a grumpy old person. They aren’t fun to be around, and if you let them, they can suck all of the energy out of a room. It is difficult to be in the company of a grumpy old person – male or female – and when we must, we often do it out of obligation.

There are many reasons why someone may become a grumpy old person. Perhaps they are experiencing chronic pain, which can leave them exhausted and frustrated. Perhaps they are lonely. Perhaps they are angry at a particular person, or even at the world which they perceive has not been kind to them.

The Example of My Aunt

I recently had a conversation with my aunt about grumpy old people. We were looking at photos of our ancestors, and she remarked that her great-grandmother was a grumpy old lady. “I don’t know why she was so grumpy, but I never liked going to her house,” she said. “There was never any joy in those visits.”

My good-natured, kind aunt is the antithesis of a grumpy old lady. Clearly, somewhere along the way, she decided that she would not be that kind of person and did things that would prevent her from becoming irritable and cantankerous.

Memories of Past Senior Neighbors

I distinctly remember two different elderly neighbors from my childhood. One was an old man who lived next door. He told us stories and let us watch him skin the catfish he caught during one of his many fishing trips.

He let us play hide and seek and run freely between his yard and ours. He had had an ancient, working water pump in his yard, which delighted us. He would let us push down on the handle and fill buckets with water just for fun. We pretended we were pioneers.

An elderly lady lived across the street from us. I don’t know her name and don’t know very much about her because she did not try to know us or engage with us in a positive way.

She wore dark clothing and old-fashioned buttoned shoes with pointed toes. We thought she might be a witch, and we were afraid of her. She kept her shades pulled down during the day.

If she saw us outside, she would yell at us, telling us not to pick her flowers or run on her lawn, even though we never even went near her house. No one ever went into her house and she seldom left it. Even as a child I knew she was not a happy person.

Does anyone ever decide that they want to be a grumpy old person or does it just happen to them because of the choices they make? If your choices can make you cross and irritable, then your choices can also make you pleasant and cheerful.

I don’t want to be a grumpy old woman.

With that in mind, I came up with a list of things that made someone a grumpy old person and vowed not to do those things. I took a look at the optimistic, vibrant people I know and made a list of the positive attributes they demonstrate.

Grumpiness is not an automatic condition of aging. You can determine the kind of person you want to be by the actions that you take.

Here is my list of actions you can take so that you do not become a grumpy old woman:

Be Patient with Children

Yes, children are loud and messy, but they are also energetic, creative, and loving. Think about yourself as a child. Do you remember adults who treated you well? How did that make you feel? Do that for other children.

Don’t Fear Teenagers

You may not understand the way teenagers dress or the video games or music they listen to – and you don’t have to. Just remember that their hip-hop is your rock and roll, which was equally scandalous at one point in time.

Teenagers are searching to find their identity. It is their job to break away from their parents and forge new paths just as you did.

Be Open to Technology

Technology has many benefits for aging adults and we have all seen them during the past couple of years. Cell phones, tablets, and computers have brought us closer to far-flung family members. Let the young people in your life teach you to use FaceTime or Skype, if you haven’t already. Facebook, Dropbox, or Google Drive can allow you to see family photos.

Home security systems and personal monitoring devices can enhance your safety. Remember that your grandparents may have been fearful of automobiles, planes, or even telephones!

Let Go of Grudges

Understandable, someone has probably harmed you in some way. Holding on to that anger does not harm them back though, it harms you.

Letting go of an old grudge doesn’t make what the other person did right, but it does free you from the burden of carrying that anger inside of you. Anger affects you in negative ways. It is difficult to be positive or optimistic when you are angry.

Be Generous

When you think about it, generosity is not as much about the other person as it is about you. Give your time, or your baked goods, or your tulips. Sharing what we have helps us to realize that we have enough. Living from a place of gratitude enhances our well-being.

Live in the Light

Get outside and enjoy the natural light. Open up your shades and let the sun shine in. Lighten those around you with a smile. Go ahead and wear bright colors if they make you happy and enhance your mood.

Engage in Activities That You Enjoy

Our hobbies often make us happy. This is the time of life when we can embrace our interests. Throw yourself into your activities. Learn new techniques, try new things. You have earned the right to enjoy yourself. If not now, when?

Stop Complaining About Your Health

Aging comes with physical struggles. Body parts don’t work like they used to. It happens to all of us. It can be helpful to occasionally discuss your medical conditions with others and get their advice or opinions.

Be that as it may, if you constantly share all the details of your medical condition with everyone or it is always your main topic of conversation, find something else to talk about.

Be Social

You don’t have to be an extrovert, but you do need people in your life. Connect with friends and family members. Go online and talk to people with the same interest you have.

Invite someone over for coffee or dinner. Go to events when you are invited. Isolation has negative impact on your health, especially your state of mind.

There you have it, my list to a happy adulthood.

What would you add to this list? What are the traits you see in people who are aging positively? How do you keep from being grumpy? I would love to hear your anti-grumpiness ideas in the conversation below.

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Smile lots, starting first thing in the morning, just for yourself.

Shirley Norman

Volunteer with a youth group!!! Plant a small garden of flowers and share them with family and friends.


I want to add expressing gratitude and thanks for every day. Finding a meditation website/channel helps (I use Mindful Peace Journey, available on You Tube).

A Shively

Hi Michelle, some of the funniest, most complex and interesting people I have met are constitutionally ‘grumpy’. In Britain, grumpiness is not a horror to be avoided, as it seems to be in the US, but often a spur to bittersweet humor, or what you might term ‘sarcasm’ and what we call ‘banter’. Your article, whilst appreciated as an idea, does not allow for the shades of character in all of us. Yes indeed, damage to mind, body or spirit does make for ‘grumpiness’, and that calls for compassion and seeing beyond superficial irritability. Not excising it from the personality. Thanks for your article.


I have an 89 year old cousin who is still active and relatively healthy with family close by. She expects people to visit hee often and gets angry with many people who live far away and cannot visit much. I think she should be grateful for once.

Lisa Jacquemetton

Chronic pain may be why some people become grumpy. They just don’t feel well! I’ve experienced it myself with a frozen shoulder that lasted 9 months. Tough to be in a good mood when you can’t sleep, so many movements are extremely painful. Probably good to be as kind as you can be to those grumps. 😊

The Author

Michele Meier Vosberg, Ph.D. is a writer and freelance educator. She left her career of over thirty years in order to create the life of her dreams. She is passionate about helping others understand their unique personality and gifts and design their best lives. Michele is married, has two grown daughters and lives in Madison, Wisconsin. Connect with Michele at

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