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Finding Happiness at Any Age Depends on These 6 Things

By Julie Ambachew October 08, 2022 Lifestyle

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.

Stay Present

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.

Keep Moving

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.

Be a Lifelong Learner

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.

Get the Support You Need

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.

Nurture Your Relationships

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.

Activate Your Bucket List

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.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

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?

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Andrea

Research shows that worldwide the happiest people are 85 and older! Likely because they’ve made it that far, probably avoided major illness, and live in gratitude for every day.

L.E.

I loved this article !

L.E.

Most always happy– Thanks be to God. He helps me much with everything.

Teresa Glass

I am unhappy because my driver’s license was suspended because I failed A DMV re examination. I was pulled over by an officer for driving too slow and because I am 68 I was forced to take a re examination. i am stuck at home. i cannot drive or work and my self confidence has taken a big hit. I am sure I will never be able to get my license back and my husband will not allow me to buy an adult tricycle. How can I be happy when I have no purpose and no friends? I wish I could move on but I cannot. i even have the dumb idea of going to adult school or community college to study medical billing and health information technology but who would hire me? I am a retired teacher and I do not know how to move on. My present is pretty bleak.

Donna

Hi Teresa, first of all when I read your post I felt so sad for you that you say your husband won’t let you buy a tricycle, as a retired teacher I assume you have your own money I.e a pension so is it lack of confidence that is making you listen to him, we are all different but if my husband told me I couldn’t buy something that I feel would improve my life I would just go ahead and buy it.
I would enrol on whatever course I fancied don’t think about getting a job at the end of it do it for pleasure and to get you out of the house and meet people.
you have been in a difficult and responsible job so try and find that confidence that is hidden within yourself to build a happier life and please don’t let anyone control you.
good luck 💐

A. Dean

Julie,
Thank you for this positive list of items we can try to improve in our life going forward. I really appreciate it. I agree with the sixties as a time when happiness can go back up. We feel blessed to have our health and have the chance to travel to see our family more. But I really like the part you wrote about not going over the past nor worrying about the future. Along with the goal of daily physical activities and trying to make sure and learn new things for mental stimulation. We also find we are happiest when we are connecting with friends and our community. Cheers!

Julie Ambachew

Thank you! I believe that if you can be enjoying moments of gratitude it can help turn your thoughts around and alleviate the worry of what is to come in the future. I was on an elevator one day asking one of our residents how the person’s day was going? The response was, “I am grateful because I woke up today”. She said, “it is simple as that”. She lives every day like it is her last and every morning she wakes up saying a prayer of thankfulness. It was a simple but profound statement that I lean into.

The Author

As Director of Clinical Services at Aegis Living, Julie oversees the clinical care of 2,500 senior living residents and a team of health services directors across 34 communities. Julie is a registered nurse, known for building strong clinical and care teams who help older adults live their lives to the fullest.

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