I knew there was something good about being 50+ and it was confirmed by a recent article I read in the New York Times Health section last week. The article was about a 2008 Gallup poll that “found that by almost any measure, people get happier as they get older.”
According to the article Gallup surveyed more than 340,000 people nationwide between the ages of 18 and 85 (quite a large generational span), asking them questions about “global well-being,” They also asked six other questions that relate to a person’s immediate well-being.
Since Gallup did not invite me to take the survey, I thought I would take it myself. Here’s the questions…you take it too and let me know how you fair:
Did you experience the following feelings during a large part of the day yesterday?
1. Enjoyment (Yes, I was feeling a sense of enjoyment yesterday, despite the rainy weather that caused my hair to frizz. I think I was still feeling the positive feelings from the two prior days when the weather was sunny, there was very low humidity in the air and my hair was absolutely perfect with highlights, color and lots of body. I wonder if I move to San Diego if I would enjoy life all the time? The weather there is always sunny, 70, with low humidity. I could have great hair days every day.)
2. Happiness (Yes, I was feeling a sense of happiness yesterday. I was happy because my contractor finally showed up to put the new glass in my kitchen windows. “Our screens look pretty dirty,” said my son D, “especially with the new clear glass in the kitchen windows.” “I guess we will have to clean the screens now,” I said to my son D. Bright clean kitchen windows, a dry basement, no raccoons, I was very happy.)
3. Stress (No, I was not feeling too stressed out yesterday. I was pretty mellow. I had done yoga the day before and I think my meditative state had lingered. My yoga teacher N showed me how to open my heart in yoga class on Tuesday night. I was excited to learn how to push out my energy through my heart. Om,om,om…yoga is truly the best way to relax my mind, body and soul.)
4. Worry (No, I was not feeling worried yesterday. My yoga practice helped me “live in the moment.” When I “live in the moment” I always seem to worry less.)
5. Anger (No, I was not feeling angry yesterday. Ooh, maybe a little angry, but I shed the anger quickly. I decided I was not going to let my son’s spending habits make me angry anymore. Ooh, maybe not anymore…but I’m learning to release the anger more quickly.)
6. Sadness (No, I was not feeling sad yesterday. The day before I was sad after talking to a former colleague who recently lost her husband after a brief illness. However, I did feel happy that I was able to help comfort her by sharing my story of how I managed after losing my spouse.)
So, how did I stack up to the Gallup results? According to the article, I was pretty in sync with my fellow fiftysomethings and the news gets better with age. Listen to this – it’s good, it’s good:
“On a global measure, people start out at age 18 feeling pretty good about themselves, and then, life begins to throw curve balls.” (Yes, this is true, I’ve had quite a few curve balls thrown at me and I haven’t always been good with the catcher’s mitt.)
But, guess what? Guess what? Guess what?
“They feel worse and worse until they hit 50. At that point, there is a sharp reversal, and people keep getting happier as they age.”
Ah ha, ah ha, ah ha, la de da, la de da, and as my father would say “I’ll have cocktails for two.”
Wait, wait, wait…the news gets even better.
“By the time they are 85, they are even more satisfied with themselves than they were at 18.”
The more I read this article, the happier I got.
“Researchers found that stress declines from age 22 onward, reaching its lowest point at 85. Worry stays fairly steady until 50, then sharply drops off. Anger decreases steadily from 18 on, and sadness rises to a peak at 50, declines to 73, then rises again to 85. Enjoyment and happiness have similar curves: they both decrease gradually until we hit 50, rise steadily for the next 25 years, and then decline very slightly at the end, but they never reach the low point of our early 50s.”
Well, that doesn’t sound so bad. If I’m currently at the lowest point of my enjoyment and happiness, there is only one direction for it to go as I continue to age and it is up, up, up.
But, how can I continue to move my happiness up, up, up?
Maybe I will read Dan Baker’s book, What Happy Women Know, to learn some tips. Dan says ” Happy women know that with each phase of life, they give up something, but they also get something in return.”
How true. How true.