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Too Good to Be True: The Older You Are, the Happier You Become

Too Good to Be True: The Older You Are, the Happier You Become

Do you remember as a teenager, all the things you worried about that seemed crucial for your happiness? With high insight, how many of those things still matter to you?

There is a famous saying, “Youth is wasted on the young.” It would appear that young people have the world at their feet. The reality is, however, that they lack the clarity of someone who has gained those life lessons that enables real happiness.

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A recent study [1] revealed that the happiest people are the over 50s. An astounding 61% said they were happier and enjoying life more. Even more interesting was the fact that more than half had been travelling, one in five planned to learn a new language and one in ten were learning to play an instrument.

Things that you find happiness in as you get older

Your looks

When you were younger, there were so many things you obsessed about when it comes to your looks. You didn’t like your body or focused on an imperfection that seemed so much bigger than what it was.

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Ironically, as you get older and may not have a body that is as fit or agile, you feel far more content about it. You finally learn to embrace your flaws. You know that you are not perfect, and that’s ok.

Your fashion

Do you remember following the latest trend or taking two hours to get dressed on a night out?

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As you age, you are more comfortable in your own skin. That doesn’t mean that you have given up wanting to look nice. It just means that you realize that other people’s opinions about your looks aren’t as important.

Someone once told me that you know you are finding happiness in getting older when you can drive to the supermarket wearing your pyjamas under your winter coat. I can happily confirm that I have done this more than once.

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Quiet nights

Weekend do not have to mean partying until the sun rises with people you hardly know. You are quite satisfied with having a quiet night at home or going to a nice bar or dinner where you can engage in conversation (and actually hear each other speak).

Less friends

The reality is that most of those numerous “best friends” will not stand the true test of time. You learn who are your genuine friends. And you couldn’t be happier about it.

How to experience more happiness before growing too old

  • Stop worrying as much about numbers–whether it is age, weight, or bank balances. When it is near the end, you will realize these weren’t as important as you thought.
  • Be ok with being yourself–whether you are unconventional, quirky, or uncool. You are still the best “you” there is.
  • Choose your friends wisely. As time goes by, you will realise the value of genuine friendship.
  • Laugh longer and more often.
  • Appreciate your health. One of the things people miss the most when they are elderly is their good health and all the things they used to be able to do easily.
  • Understand you may fail 100 times before you succeed. And that is still ok.
  • Stop trying to control or change other people. The only person you need to change or control is yourself.
  • Live with little regrets or what ifs. Do you have something you always dreamt of doing but keep postponing? Is there someone out there who you need to tell you love?
  • Embrace not only your ups but also your downs. There is no one alive who has never experienced down moments. In time, you will realize you needed those downs to mold you into who you will become.
  • Appreciate the small things of the “now.” It could be as simple as an evening spent with people you care about or that birthday card from your grandmother–these people will not always be around.
  • Surround yourself with positive love–whether it is the things that you love or the people who you love.
  • Don’t wait for someone or something to make your life better. The only person who can make your life better is you.
  • Most people live in the future i.e. all the things they want to do or are working towards doing. They sadly miss out living in the present. Don’t be one of those people.
  • Always remember, happiness is a state of mind, not a state of being.

Reference

More by this author

J.S. von Dacre

Writer at Lifehack

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Last Updated on February 19, 2019

Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

No one wants to suffer. As a general rule, people like to avoid hurt and pain as much as possible. As a species, humans want a painless existence so much that scientists make a living trying to create it.

People can now choose “pain-free” labor for babies, and remedies to cure back pain, headaches, body-pains and even mental pains are a dime a dozen. Beyond medicine, we also work hard to experience little pain even when it comes to loss; often times we believe a breakup won’t hurt as much if we are the ones to call it off.

But would a world without pain truly be painless? It’s unlikely. In fact, it would probably be painful exactly for that reason.

If people never experienced hurt, they wouldn’t know what it was. On the surface level, that seems like a blessing, but think for a moment: if we didn’t know pain, how would we know peace? If you don’t know you’ve hurt or been hurt, how would you know that you need to heal? Imagine someone only knowing they have an incurable cancer at the final stage because no obvious symptoms have appeared at early stages.

Without the feeling of pain, people won’t be aware of dangerous situations—what should or shouldn’t do for survival.

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Pain Is Our Guardian

Pain serves to protect human beings from harmful actions. It’s the same reason parents teach babies that fire equals hot, and that hot equals hurt. Should the baby still place its hand in a fire or on a stove, the intense pain remains so memorable, that the child is certain never to repeat that action.

In the same way, pain within human bodies can serve as a warning that something is not right. Because you know what it is to feel “well,” you know what it is to feel poorly.[1]

Along with serving as a teacher of what not to do, pain also teaches you what you are made of in terms of what you can handle as an individual.

While the cliche, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is a tired term, it’s used excessively for a reason: it’s true. Pain helps you learn to cope with life’s inevitable difficulties and sadnesses— to develop the grit it takes to push past hardships and carry on.

Whether it’s a shattering pain, like the loss of a loved one or a debilitating accident, pain affects everyone differently. But it still affects everyone. Take a breakup as an example, anyone who has experienced it knows it can hurt to the point of feeling physical. Especially the first breakup. At a young age, it feels like the loss of the only love you’ll ever know. As you grow and learn, you realize you’re more resilient with every ended relationship.

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No Pain, No Happiness

You only know happiness when you have known pain. While the idea of constant happiness sounds nice, there is little chance it would be. Without the comparison to happiness, there’s no reason to be grateful for it. That is to say, without ever knowing sadness or pain, you would have no reason to be grateful for happiness.

In reality, there is always something missing, or something unpleasant, but it is only through those realizations that you know to be grateful when you feel you have it all. Read more about why happiness and pain have to exist together: Chasing Happiness Won’t Make You Happy

In a somewhat counter-intuitive finding, researchers found one of the things that brings about the most happiness is challenge. When people are tested, they experience a greater sense of accomplishment and happiness when they are successful. It is largely for this reason that low-income individuals can often feel happier than those who have a sense of wealth.[2]

This is a great thing to remember the next time you feel you would be happier if you just had a little more cash.

Avoiding Pain Leads to More Suffering

Pain is inevitable, embrace it positively. Anyone who strives to have a painless life is striving for perfectionism; and perfectionism guarantees sadness because nothing will ever be perfect.

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This isn’t a bleak outlook, but rather a truthful one. The messy moments in life tend to create the best memories and gratitude. Pain often serves as a reminder of lessons learned, much like physical scars on the body.

Pain will always be painful, but it’s the hurt feelings that help wiser decisions be made.

Allow Room for the Inevitable

Learning how to tolerate pain, especially the emotional kind, is a valuable lesson.

Accepting and feeling pain makes you human. There is no weakness in that. Weakness only comes when you try to blame your own pain on someone else, expecting the blame to alleviate your hurting. There’s a saying,

“Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting your enemy to die.”

Think back to the last time you were really angry with someone. Maybe you were hurt because you got laid off from a job. You felt angry and that anger caused so much pain that you could feel it in a physical way. Being angry and blaming your ex boss for that pain didn’t affect him or her in any way; you’re the only one who lost sleep over it.

The healthier thing to do in a situation like that is acknowledge your pain and the anger along with it. Accept it and explore it in an introspective way. How can you learn and grow? What is at the root of that pain? Are you truly hurting and angry about being laid off, or is the pain more a correlation to you feeling like you failed?

While uncomfortable, exploring your pain is a way to raise your self-awareness. By understanding more about yourself, you know how to deal with similar situations in the future. You can never expect to be numb to difficult situations, but you will learn to better prepare financially for the loss of a job and be grateful for an income since you now know nothing is promised (no matter how much you work or how deserving you may feel).

Pain Hurts, but Numbness Would Be Worse

Pain does not feel good, but the bad feeling of it will help you learn and grow. It makes the sweet moments in life even sweeter and the gratitude more sincere.

To have a happier and more successful life, you don’t learn from success or accomplishment, but through pain and failures. For it is in those moments that you learn how to do better in the future or at least cope a little more easily.

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You are the strong person you are today because of the hardships this life has presented to you. While you may have felt out of control when those hard times came, the one thing you will always have control over is how you choose to react to things. The next time you hurt or you’re angry or sad, acknowledge it and allow yourself to ruminate in it. Then take a deep breath and start learning from that pain. You’ve got this!

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

[1] University of Calgary: Why is Pain Important?
[2] Greater Good Magazine: The Importance of Pain

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