As Dalai Lama once said, “Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.” Throughout life, we experience ups and downs with happiness. According to a recent study, happiness often declines from young adulthood through middle age, with self-reported happiness bottoming out around age 50.
Interestingly, later in the mid-60s, individuals reported their happiness levels were heading back up. The key question is, how do you keep that positive trajectory going later in life?
While there are so many things we cannot control – from losing a loved one to overcoming a certain health condition or even an unexpected life change like a cross-country move – there are still many things we can do to keep us living each day to the fullest.
Making a conscious effort to focus on what is happening in the present, versus past events or anxieties about the future, will keep you focused on making the most out of the day – even hour – you are in.
Staying present also means avoiding dwelling on what is not happening. Those who reported being unhappy focused on what was not happening as much as what was happening, and as they say, comparison is the enemy of joy.
Arguably, the best way to improve your mood is to prioritize exercise at every age. Exercise sends endorphins and feel-good hormones throughout your body that naturally boost your mood. Block time off in your day to join a group fitness class or go on a daily walk with a friend around your neighborhood.
Not only will this add physical movement to your day, but it will add social fulfillment to your life. If you are concerned about your physical abilities, speak with your physician to create a plan that is right for you.
Having an active mind can lead to a longer, happier life. Read books on new topics, learn the language you always wished to master, take an online class. As important as it is to move your body every day, it is just as important to engage in lifelong, purposeful learning. Learning also keeps your mental health in check and can strengthen synapses that support memory and emotion.
Whether it be a pandemic, unexpected loss, or the stress of moving out of your home, life distresses are inevitable. The more you practice healthy ways to navigate difficult situations, the happier you will be.
Strategies to help you cope could include meditation, breathing exercises, talking to a friend or loved one, reaching out to a spiritual mentor, joining a support group, or seeing a therapist. The more prepared you are to handle tough emotions and events, the happier you will be as you come out the other side.
Nurturing relationships in your life bring you joy and leave you feeling fulfilled. For many, these relationships are steady life partners, supportive friends and family, and community groups. Finding the community that is there to support you, grow with you, and that you can count on will fulfill the human need for belonging. Surround yourself with others that are happy, as studies have shown that the happiness can spread to you.
Always wanted to visit Paris, try a polar plunge, learn to paint or pick up an instrument from childhood? Book the trip you have been putting off and do the things you haven’t done! Not only will this give you new memories that last a lifetime, but you will also experience joy from honoring your true self and ambitions. After all, you have one life, so why not live it chasing your dreams?
No matter your age – happiness is a lifelong journey. Go live the life you’ve always wanted and share your zest for life with those around you. Lose yourself in something you love.
When was the last time you were unhappy? Why? What does happiness mean to you? What activities bring you joy? How will you chase joy this week?
What a great article! It really is true about not living in the past of regret or the future of what if’s. Staying present and grateful is vital to daily happiness. Thank you again for the refresher as sometimes it’s easier said than done!
I am 66 and I am ready to retire looking at my social security check is kind of depressing…. So I have started doordashing delivering food only in my neighborhood.
I don’t go outside of my neighborhood. I won’t accept those. So that I’m not touching my IRA or any funds that I’m needing when I am more stationary
and docile shall we say. This is actually great exercise and there are quite a few of us retired folk delivering food to the youngsters… (Not very many of us retired folk we’ll eat junk food LOL. )
I only deliver between 2 and 1/2 to 3 hours at lunch and then sometimes at dinner. Dinner rush is more lucrative however. Yes you do need to walk up apartment stairs you do need to get in and out of your car to pick up from the restaurant and then again to drop off at the customer. So there is a lot of exercise there actually movement.
Just thought I’d share I’m going to continue delivering food until I can’t walk anymore.
I’m unhappy because 2 of my 3 sons have wives that loathe each other. I haven’t had all 3 of my sons together in 3 1/2 years. I’ve never had all my 3 grandchildren with me at the same time. We all live within 10 minutes of each other. My heart hurts daily. Also, between my 3 boys and their wives, someone is having a hard time with something, and their problems are my problems. Their hurts are my hurts. Their disappointments are also mine. The heaviness follows me everywhere I go.
I was just talking yesterday to a parent whose 2 sons had the same problem. The wives did not get along, and the sons who had been very close prior to marriages, were now barely speaking to each other. The parents of the boys came home one day- and found both couples in the house, in separate rooms. The dad said you could cut the tension with a knife. Then one of the wives asked her mother in law if there was anything she could do for her. The mom burst into tears, and said, you can stop making my sons so estranged from each other because the wives don’t get along!
Apparently they did make a big effort, and it is a better situation now. I hope something will work for your family too.
Hello Cindy Lou,
I also have 3 sons. Why don’t you get your sons together without their wives? It can be a new situation which your sons may really enjoy.
Health issues and lack of money are two of the things that I really feel drive depression in us Golden People. Opportunities even for professional Goldens are few and pensions and social security are taxed as are properties and generally for things we don’t use or long ago stopped using. Add that to the quest to medicate the pain that comes with aging instead of investing in safer and more affective methods, and just when we’re at our smartest, coolest, and most astute time of our lives, our bodies and finances get in the way and politicians get votes using words like “for the children” and “education” to sex up the vote. The poorest and sickest people in America are Seniors and it’s worse for single women. The invisibility and ageism are widespread, cross cultural/racial boundaries, and I don’t believe it’s anywhere near being addressed in this “woke” PC world.
Amen Maxine.!! Agreed
The biggest thing that makes me unhappy is my health.
I planned to do so much when I retired but due to many health problems I’m unable to do any of them, the biggest and most debilitating are the bulging discs in my spine, I’m unable to walk or stand for any length of time without excruciating back pain
Lesley, look into regenerative medicine such as PRP (stem cell) along with physical therapy and perhaps non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines for your back. It is not painful. Try never to have fusion as the recovery is tough, but if you do have it, insist on minimally invasive and go to a doctor who has done many, many successful ones. And insist that if they use hardware that it be removed when the fusion is complete. I’m 65 and had an accident that required this, although I still question why because I’ve used PRP for other orthopedic degenerative conditions including arthritis in my hip and it’s worked beautifully. I am still recovering, but I’m back in the gym, walking three miles a day, and I believe I will continue to improve if I stay with the program. I am certain there are ways to help you deal with this.
Hi eat healthy do stretchers every morning all the best
Dear Lesley, my love to you. I’m almost 69 and dealt with problems due to an automobile accident. Pain is so horrible, debilitating then also depressing. Have you tried many different surgeons or other health givers?
Im sending love to you a hug from Southern California. I hope you are able to get healing ♥️♥️
Have you considered the benefits of water aerobics or swimming. There are many city centers that have public swim on top of classes they provide, so if at first you do not want to join a class you can go at your own pace and get movement back into your life.
Here is some information related to the benefits related to back pain. It is hard to enjoy life when you are in continual pain.
“It’s common for back pain to be caused by weak back muscles. This is why water workouts are so beneficial for anyone dealing with back pain. It provides a low-impact exercise that strengthens and conditions these muscles, creating better support for your spine. When exercising in a pool, the water provides your body with a sort of cushion that removes stress from your back, helping you move more easily and lowering your risk of injury.
Your range of motion is also increased in water, because the water supports up to 90% of your weight, taking pressure off your joints and spine. So if, for example, your back pain doesn’t allow you to perform certain movements such as leg lifts, the water will allow you to perform them much more easily”
Here is the link to the article for you to review: