An unfortunately large percentage of people tend to think of aging as a progressive process of loss—of loved ones, memory, flexibility, hair etc. However, while age may certainly bring challenges to the body and brain, it also brings a number of noteworthy benefits—gains we believe should be addressed when discussing aging. As you age, you can expect to see improvements in:
- Mental health. Throughout our lives, we generally become more focused on the positive, and better at regulating our emotional health—we stop “sweating the small stuff” and start cherishing simple pleasures. In addition, as time becomes more finite, we begin to focus on what is most important and meaningful, tailoring our experiences and choices to increase well-being. Stanford psychologist Laura Carstensen has termed this phenomenon the “socioemotional selectivity theory”.
- Happiness. More effective emotion regulation strategies and a positivity bias naturally result in a decrease in the frequency and duration of negative emotions. A longitudinal study conducted by Carstensen followed participants aged 18-94 for 10 years and found that those in their 70s and early 80s were the happiest. Additional studies have replicated these findings.
- Wisdom. Experience affords an abundance of social and emotional knowledge that allow older people to make more sound life decisions. According to a study led by social psychologist Igor Grossman, older people tend to demonstrate more “wisdom-related thinking,” as evaluated by six categories including allowing for compromise, seeking multiple perspectives, and admitting uncertainty.
- Migraines. According to a study by the Headache Center of Atlanta, those aged 50 and over get less severe migraine attacks and symptoms than their younger counterparts.
So the next time you start focusing on some of the more negative aspects of aging, remember there are many more positives that come with added years and added wisdom. To learn about some of the secrets to a long and happy life, read our book, Happy to 102, available on Amazon.com.