Our culture’s mainstream view of aging can be summed up in three words: old age sucks. At least, that’s what the cosmetic and anti-aging industry would have you believe.
In reality, study after study has concluded that the second half of life — “old age” — is the happiest part of our lives.
In a recent study tracking the emotions of 340,000 adults, Arthur Stone, a professor of psychiatry at Stony Brook University, found that feelings of happiness and wellbeing decline from age 18 to age 50, while after age 50 feelings of happiness grow more positive as people age.
In an NPR interview about his study, Stone said that “you are least satisfied with life in middle age or around the 50s and that you are most satisfied in the 20’s and in the 70’s and early 80’s.”
Remarkably, the study found that feelings of happiness grow after age 50 regardless of having a partner or spouse, children at home or a job.
Stone, and fellow researchers at Columbia, Princeton and the Gallup organization, said the reasons for this pattern are unknown. What is known, they said, is that the emotions of stress and anger decline throughout life. And the emotion of worrying, in particular, holds steady until about age 50, and then sharply declines.
Perhaps the pharmaceutical industry can figure out how to capture the genius of aging in a new anti-depressant?
Read the full report here: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/recent
Hat-tip to Ben Lewis’ blog Engage as You Age for spreading the happy news.