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Science Has Shown Happiness Comes With Age (No Matter How We’ve Lived Until Then)

Science Has Shown Happiness Comes With Age (No Matter How We’ve Lived Until Then)

Have you ever thought to yourself, “I’m so much happier now than I used to be?”

If not, don’t worry: you’ll get there. All you need to do is age a little. That’s what science says, anyway.

Humans are programmed to be able to adapt to their surroundings, but the social and emotional pressures that go along with growing up—not to mention unpredictable events along the way, like a death in the family—don’t make this very easy.

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It turns out scientific research continues to point toward evidence that we really are happier the older we get. Happiness comes with age—no matter the hardships, minor or severe, we’ve faced throughout our lives.

Here’s a little hope, backed by science, for those who aren’t where they want to be in life, and wonder if they’ll ever be as happy as they’d like to be.

What is happiness?

When we look at the dictionary definition of happiness—good fortune, pleasure or joy—it’s hard to believe that, according to science, no matter how much misfortune or misery we might encounter as we migrate through life, we’ll still be happier 10, 20, even 50 years from now than we are right now.

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That disbelief is challenged, however, when we consider that happiness is nothing more than a much broader idea of the concept psychologists call life satisfaction, or a person’s thoughts and feelings toward the daily ins and outs of their lives.

Life satisfaction, a narrower, more scientific way to measure happiness among populations, is what researchers have more recently used to analyze how people’s happiness changes over time.

A study found that happiness in groups increases with age.

In 2013, a study was published suggesting the overall happiness of the general population tends to increase the older they get. Researchers analyzed data that included self-reported levels of happiness spanning across thousands of people over 30 years. This data was taken from two large-scale studies conducted by the National Institute of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and used as a way to infer how the ways our world is changing, such as high unemployment rates, might impact the well-being of younger generations of people.

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They found a trend within that data that suggested while overall well-being of older adults appeared lower than younger adults, life satisfaction in those participants increased over time. As they got older, their thoughts and feelings about their lives became, overall, more positive.

Using the same definition of happiness as summarized in the section above, we can therefore speculate that in general, throughout our lifetimes, the levels of satisfaction we feel when we reflect on, live through and plan ahead for the various stages of our lives will incline.

What does this mean for us?

Life is a series of hills and valleys. We all go through hardships and, whether we’re able to believe it or not, come out on the other side stronger than we ever were before.

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The older we get, the more different types of experiences we endure as we continue to adapt to our surroundings, and as science suggests, the happier we will become.

So what if you’re not quite at a point in your life where you have to take a step back and ask yourself, “Why am I happier now?” The truth is, that’s okay. Remember Maslow’s hierarchy, that triangle of basic human needs you learned about in health class? Our needs are never completely satisfied. We’re always going to be on the lookout for the next best thing, to keep ourselves energized, to find new ways to make us, and those around us, happy.

That pursuit, as the years go by, is exactly what we live for.

Featured photo credit: PROBrian Tomlinson via flickr.com

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Last Updated on January 18, 2019

7 Ways To Deal With Negative People

7 Ways To Deal With Negative People

Some people will have a rain cloud hanging over them, no matter what the weather is outside. Their negative attitude is toxic to your own moods, and you probably feel like there is little you can do about it.

But that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

If you want to effectively deal with negative people and be a champion of positivity, then your best route is to take definite action through some of the steps below.

1. Limit the time you spend with them.

First, let’s get this out of the way. You can be more positive than a cartoon sponge, but even your enthusiasm has a chance of being afflicted by the constant negativity of a friend.

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In fact, negativity has been proven to damage your health physically, making you vulnerable to high levels of stress and even cardiac disease. There’s no reason to get hurt because of someone else’s bad mood.

Though this may be a little tricky depending on your situation, working to spend slightly less time around negative people will keep your own spirits from slipping as well.

2. Speak up for yourself.

Don’t just absorb the comments that you are being bombarded with, especially if they are about you. It’s wise to be quick to listen and slow to speak, but being too quiet can give the person the impression that you are accepting what’s being said.

3. Don’t pretend that their behavior is “OK.”

This is an easy trap to fall into. Point out to the person that their constant negativity isn’t a good thing. We don’t want to do this because it’s far easier to let someone sit in their woes, and we’d rather just stay out of it.

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But if you want the best for this person, avoid giving the false impression that their negativity is normal.

4. Don’t make their problems your problems.

Though I consider empathy a gift, it can be a dangerous thing. When we hear the complaints of a friend or family member, we typically start to take on their burdens with them.

This is a bad habit to get into, especially if this is a person who is almost exclusively negative. These types of people are prone to embellishing and altering a story in order to gain sympathy.

Why else would they be sharing this with you?

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5. Change the subject.

When you suspect that a conversation is starting to take a turn for the negative, be a champion of positivity by changing the subject. Of course, you have to do this without ignoring what the other person said.

Acknowledge their comment, but move the conversation forward before the euphoric pleasure gained from complaining takes hold of either of you.

6. Talk about solutions, not problems.

Sometimes, changing the subject isn’t an option if you want to deal with negative people, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still be positive.

I know that when someone begins dumping complaints on me, I have a hard time knowing exactly what to say. The key is to measure your responses as solution-based.

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You can do this by asking questions like, “Well, how could this be resolved?” or, “How do you think they feel about it?”

Use discernment to find an appropriate response that will help your friend manage their perspectives.

7. Leave them behind.

Sadly, there are times when we have to move on without these friends, especially if you have exhausted your best efforts toward building a positive relationship.

If this person is a family member, you can still have a functioning relationship with them, of course, but you may still have to limit the influence they have over your wellbeing.

That being said, what are some steps you’ve taken to deal with negative people? Let us know in the comments.

You may also want to read: How to Stop the Negative Spin of Thoughts, Emotions and Actions.

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