The answer may surprise you!
Every time I wish my 97 year-old Uncle “have a fabulous day,” he answers enthusiastically with “every day is a great day.”
Adjust the attitude
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Attitude is a major factor in one’s outlook on life. Happiness is an inside job and one you can learn to cultivate at any age.
However, economic and behavioral research reveals that happiness in old people does seem to happen in later years regardless of money, relationships, employment status or children.
According to an expansive study led by Andrew Oswald of the University of Warwick, personal wellbeing was examined in over 50 countries reflecting that life cycles follow a distinctive U shape, regardless of cultural influences.
In youth, happiness and mental health are high, until about age 30.
In midlife, happiness falls to the lowest point—bottoming out at around age 46–only to rebound upward again in the 60s. The twilight years may be the best that’s yet to come.
It seems rhythms to happiness may be built-in to our biology, affecting both men and women.
Additional research found similar U-shaped life patterns in chimpanzees and orangutans.
Older is better
Experience may be partially responsible in allowing older adults to recognize what’s truly of value and deeply important to wellbeing. Earlier years are more focused on achieving goals and accomplishments, on making money and managing family.
Beyond the 50’s, adults are better equipped to deal with change, loss, and letting go of disappointment or unrealized goals and aspirations.
Acceptance becomes more prevalent. Opportunities to enjoy good health and friendships are more appreciated.
In fact, mature adults may naturally seek friends who are uplifting and support their lifestyle.
Furthermore, it’s possible that biologically as the brain ages it becomes more wired to respond positively rather than negatively to life’s stimulations.
Five tips to change mid-life unhappiness
Here are suggestions for overcoming the slump of ages 30s through 50s:
1. Notice feelings and emotions but don’t let them control your decisions
You may need to deal with challenges but they may not necessarily require escaping a marriage, job or buying a hot sports car as in the typical mid-life crisis. Be mindful.
If you need support, discuss options with a friend or talk to a professional—pastor, rabbi, mental health expert, physician or life coach. Awareness of your problems is the first step which then makes finding solutions more possible.
2. Make time for exercise
Active movement is important to keep the body fit and the mind functioning optimally to improve decision-making and feel good about yourself.
Fitness can reduce, and even eliminate, depression. Check out the options for exercise plans at Watchfit.com
Adults typically require 7 to 8 hours of quality rest. If deprived, both mind and body are compromised, and memory and good judgment suffer. As a result, you may have feelings of sadness, develop exaggerated worries, or get sick.
A simple recommendation is to get to bed a little earlier!
4. If you find yourself surrounded by toxic friends, get rid of them
Their drama and complaints can bring you down. Frankly, you’re not doing them any favors by allowing them to remain stuck in ongoing negativity. If you can help them alleviate any challenges that’s one thing, but if you’re just a dumping ground, change it up.
Sometimes the people with the worst attitudes may be family members so just minimize the amount of time you expose yourself to their problems and issues.
5. Forget the past – it’s old news
Pay attention to this moment and give thanks for all that you have.
Is there food in your refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof over your head, a place to sleep? If so, you’re richer than 75% of this world. Be grateful for all the people and things that are present in your life.
Focus on the positive. In fact, feeling gratitude has been shown to boost your immune system so it can actually help keep you healthier as you age.
Ultimately we all want to be happy (and loved!)
So it seems ironic that aging—which many fear–may actually be the secret potion we seek!
If you’re facing mid-life and feeling stressed or full of pressures, you may be encouraged to know that there’s a pot of golden contentment at the end of the rainbow.
Start recognizing that the glass isn’t just half full, it’s overflowing with possibilities. You can expand your viewpoints now. In truth, only you can make every day a great day!
Peggy Sealfon is a personal development coach and author of the best-selling book Escape from Anxiety—Supercharge Your Life with Powerful Strategies from A to Z.
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