More threads by David Baxter PhD

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
Older may mean happier

CLAREMONT, Calif., Jan 31, 2007 (UPI) -- A U.S. neuropsychologist says her research indicates senior citizens are more often happier than their children and grandchildren.

Associate Professor Stacey Wood at Scripps College in Claremont, Calif., said her study suggests older adults process negative information differently than do their younger counterparts.

In a recent experiment with collaborator Michael Kisley at the University of Colorado, both older and younger adults were shown a series of negative images (such as dead animals) or positive images (such as bowls of ice cream) and the degree to which brain activity increased was recorded. The results showed older adults are more likely to be less responsive to negative or unpleasant information.

Wood says, "In general, humans have a tendency to pay more attention to 'bad' than to 'good,' a phenomenon called the negativity bias." Wood said. "This tendency decreases as we age."

The study was funded by the National Institute on Aging.

Daniel E.
Along similar lines:

It turns out that most of us think that happiness decreases with age, but most of us are wrong. We know that thanks to research done by Heather Lacey, a Research Fellow at the Center of Behavior and Decision Sciences in Medicine in Ann Arbor. She did a survey of more than 500 people nationwide and found that most of them believed they would be less happy in the future and older respondents believed they were happier in the past. Those responses don't seem to match reality and Dr. Lacey is concerned that people might be making bad decisions about their health based on the assumption that they should enjoy themselves while they're young.

Why the Future Looks Happy - NPR (2006) (with MP3 audio)


I think as I get older, I become more comfortable with myself, which makes me happier. I've heard other people around my age say the same thing. I'm 49.


I find this premise to be true for me. As I've aged (I'm 46), I'm more disciplined, and less afraid to be myself. I don't need the approval of others nearly as much as I did when I was younger and somewhat unsure. I also think my attitude is more positive and less judgemental than when I was younger. I've finally grown into the fact that I don't know it all, and I never will! ;)

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
I've finally grown into the fact that I don't know it all, and I never will!

So true. Dave Barry (American humorist) once wrote something along the lines of:

"When I was 20, my father didn't know anything at all. By the time I reached 30, I was amazed at how much he had learned."
depression had me at my unhappiest for a while but overall i also find i am happier as i get older (not that i'm all that old). i chalk it up to life experience and understanding myself and the world around me better.

Daniel E.
An update of sorts:

On turning 40 last year:

"It's funny because it really wasn't a landmark birthday for me. I remember when I was 33 or 34, it was devastating because I realized I wasn't a kid anymore. The great thing about 40 was that I really felt like I had life experience and knew what I was doing now. In fact, 40 turned out to be an empowered place for me, because I also realized how much I didn't know when I was 20 or even 30."

~ Jennifer Lopez

J.Lo: I'm still the same girl from the Bronx - Wonderwall

Daniel E.
Something a little more scientific than quoting Jennifer Lopez:

A new report finds that older people have lower rates of mental illnesses related to mood and anxiety than younger people, but the conditions remain common, especially in women.

Researchers led by Amy L. Byers of the University of California at San Francisco analyzed a survey of 2,575 people aged 55 and older.

Five percent said they'd had a mood disorder -- such as depression or bipolar disorder -- within the past year. Twelve percent reported anxiety disorders such as panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder, and 3 percent said they had both mood and anxiety disorders.

The oldest people in the study, those aged 85 and older, were the least likely to report having the conditions.

In general, women had around double the rate of the disorders as men did.

Older Adults Have Lower Rates of Mood, Anxiety Disorders
The authors examined NCS-R data to determine nationally representative estimates of age-specific, 12-month prevalence rates of mood, anxiety, and comorbid disorders in older, community-dwelling adults. Prevalence estimates were based on DSM-IV diagnostic criteria. The 9,282 NCS-R participants included 2,575 adults ages 55 and older, broken down as follows:

  • 43% ages 55 to 64
  • 32% ages 65 to 74
  • 20% ages 75 to 84
  • 5% age 85 and older
The principal outcomes were 12-month prevalence estimates of mood disorders (major depression, dysthymia, and bipolar disorder), anxiety disorders, and coexisting mood-anxiety disorder.

Mood, Anxiety Disorders Common in Older Adults

Daniel E.
From another article in the New York Times:
Dr. Isaacowitz found in another study that older people were twice as likely as younger ones to be “rapid regulators” — people whose mood bounced back quickly, sometimes within minutes, after ruminating on depressing memories.

“We have found in general that older people tend to regulate their emotions faster, and are not as motivated to explore negative information, to engage negative images, as younger people are,” Dr. Isaacowitz said. “And it makes some sense, that younger adults would explore the negative side of things, that they need to and maybe want to experience them — to experience life — as they develop their own strategies to regulate.”

Socially speaking, in short, the ability to shrug off feelings of disgust or outrage may suit an older group but strike younger people as inauthentic, even callous.

The Benefits of Blowing Your Top -

Daniel E.
Happiness: Study of happiness is great, but why am I still bummed out? -

...Still more studies are examining the relationship between age and happiness. They have found, perhaps counterintuitively, that people tend to get happier after 50.

Summarizing the research recently in Slate, writer Libby Copeland said it suggests that happiness is a matter of managing expectations, something that's easier to do as we get older.

"As we age, it appears, we aspire to moderation rather than thrills, we notice the silver lining, we temper our highs and lows, and we seek fulfillment in the moment," she writes.

I guess that's good news for me, since I'm not that far away from the half-century mark. It's nice to have something to look forward to other than ear hair and wrinkles...

Daniel E.
Why Your Late Twenties Is the Worst Time of Your Life
Harvard Business Review

...The change that occurs after the quarter-life crisis is attributable to a set of skills we acquire: we learn to develop psychological mastery and to regulate and attenuate our emotions, or to dismiss them instead of dwelling and allowing emotions to take over. As we age, we learn to put things in perspective, believe in ourselves more, and realize that the emotions that sometimes pierce our chests are temporary and do not have to consume us. Psychological aging is a positive process in which older equals better. That should reassure twentysomethings who are currently feeling stressed out or lost, and help their elders remember what it was like — really like — to be young.


Account Closed
I don't understand this thread at all...I was happiest at 16-17-18 and if I could go back to these years, I would do it in a heartbeat. Something is wrong with Jennifer Lopez; though in her case after multiple plastic surgeries she finally looked well at 40, hmm not a fan. I watched her teenage years appearances and could not recognize her at all, plastic surgery really does wonders if your rich.:eek:mg:
Anyway, I know that I am not going to look better at 40 than at 18, so ... the comparison is not appropriate. In fact, I have lost all my looks long before 40, lol. Yeah, tell me about Jennifer Lopez.

---------- Post Merged at 03:07 PM ---------- Previous Post was at 02:50 PM ----------

The more I approach 40, the more I think that I would rather be in jeans on a street car, kissing with my boyfriend, than on Sandals in a "nice" dress to hide most parts of my body, drinking junk alcohol and noticing everything and everyone. I don't see anything that amazing in getting older; other than the fact that nothing brings me joy, sorry for the rant.
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