One of the reasons young people do such risky things is because they think happiness declines with age so they live it up. They’re only half right: you are happiest at ages 26 and 83. There’s a lot of evidence that we’re happier when we’re older. What’s interesting is the meaning of happiness does change as we age: young people associate happiness with excitement. Older people connect happiness with peacefulness. The mid-life crisis may be a myth. Life does seem to speed up as you get older. The bands and songs people remember most fondly in middle age are the ones they came to love between the ages of 16 and 21.
- Youthful success may mean you won’t live as long. Happy people live longer. How you feel right now is a half decent way to determine whether you’ll die in the next 30 years. Genetics may be the key to living past 100. The month of your birth can predict how long you live. Eating right can increase lifespan.
- We pick mates the same way when we’re old as when we’re young. Women are much more likely to have affairs when they’re young. For men the likelihood increases with age. Sexual satisfaction is associated with youth.
- As we age, some of our decision-making skills decline while others can improve. Yes, you will be wiser when you’re older. You’ll love your family more when you’re older. You get worse at lying and recognizing lies as you age but you’ll be more forgiving. Fundamental personality traits and self-esteem don’t change much as we age but people show increased self-confidence, warmth, self-control, and emotional stability with age. Conservative politics seem to benefit the elderly and your religious beliefs can affect how much your brain atrophies when you age.
- People who look young for their age live longer. Making an effort to look young and act young can help you stay young. Your face will show more signs of age if you smoke, get too much sun or are really thin — get a massage to fight back. Older individuals with more positive self-perceptions of aging… lived 7.5 years longer than those with less positive self-perceptions of aging.
- To keep your brain strong in the later years try learning another language or challenging your beliefs. An active imagination helps memory and everyday functioning for elderly people. Whatever you do, don’t retire. The longest living people around the world all place a strong emphasis on family and social engagement.
- There are a lot of little things that can help you live longer. Studying people from birth to old age has taught us a lot.Connecting with and helping others is more important than obsessing over a rigorous exercise program. And there are things you can do to live a life without regret.
- “What allows people to work, and love, as they grow old? By the time the Grant Study men had entered retirement, Vaillant, who had then been following them for a quarter century, had identified seven major factors that predict healthy aging, both physically and psychologically. Employing mature adaptations was one. The others were education, stable marriage, not smoking, not abusing alcohol, some exercise, and healthy weight.” But when asked to explain the single most important lesson he replied “the only thing that really matters in life are your relationships to other people.”
This piece originally appeared on Barking Up the Wrong Tree.
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