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The oldest Americans are also the happiest…

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“It turns out the golden years really are golden. Eye-opening new research finds the happiest Americans are the oldest, and older adults are more socially active than the stereotype of the lonely senior suggests. The two go hand-in-hand: Being social can help keep away the blues.

“The good news is that with age comes happiness,” said study author Yang Yang, a University of Chicago sociologist. “Life gets better in one’s perception as one ages.” More here.

In trying to explain these findings the study author states:

“Older people generally have learned to be more content with what they have than younger adults, Yang said.

Another aging expert explains the findings similarly:

“This is partly because older people have learned to lower their expectations and accept their achievements, said Duke University aging expert Linda George. An older person may realize “it’s fine that I was a schoolteacher and not a Nobel prize winner.”

My question: To those seeking happiness now (and doing all the things we do in order to attain it), should we lower our expectations earlier in life now? So we can be happy sooner and enjoy it longer? Stress less?

What happens to all these goals that drive us then? And us?

Or, does lowering expectations only work when you know you have run out of time?

About the author

Kim Klaver

2 Comments

  • I haven’t lowered my expectations and I’m happy with my life. I appreciate the things I have in my life, like my husband, son and all of us having good health.

    I’m motivated by my passions like animals, family and work. I think for me it’s more about doing things I love, following my purpose and being involved with people who share the same passions.

    I’ve got one live and expect to live it fully so no I’m not lowering my expectations. How can I change the world even a tiny bit without expecting it to happen?

    Maybe when I’m a lot older I’ll feel different but I would rather look back on the ways I helped make changes.

    Robin

  • Kim asks: “My question: To those seeking happiness now (and doing all the things we do in order to attain it), should we lower our expectations earlier in life now? So we can be happy sooner and enjoy it longer? Stress less?”

    Thinking that it is necessary to “seek happiness” is the problem. Because this causes one to live outside of the present moment, the only place where one can ever actually be happy.

    Elderly people may be happier because they have stopped seeking and are allowing themselves to simply ‘be.’ To me this study is not about the necessity of lowering expectations, it’s about a fundamental misunderstanding of who we are.

    Be happy now, by honoring this moment, whatever it brings. This is something we can all do right now that not only improves our personal lives, but positively impacts the collective consciousness of the entire planet.

    Stress is a result of living in memories of the past or thoughts of the future, rather than actually experiencing this NOW moment. A book that will either change your life completely or be meaningless to you (either is fine) is “A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose, by Eckhart Tolle.”

    We are conditioned to think our life’s purpose must be something big and impressive. While it is actually to simply become conscious. Read the book and listen to the recorded webcast that Oprah did with Tolle for more on this.

    “What happens to all these goals that drive us then?”

    You can still have goals. When you learn to live in present moment, paying attention to what you are doing now, not thinking back or planning ahead, achieving goals (or doing anything)is more fun. Because you are then in alignment with who you really are, rather than trying to force something into existence with the power of your will. That can be done, too, but that is the cause of stress.

    “Or, does lowering expectations only work when you know you have run out of time?”

    Happiness is not contingent on giving up. Happiness is available to everyone, every second of every day. We just have to claim it by being present right now to experience it. If that makes no sense and you wish it did, read the book.

    Tracy

    Tracy Austin
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