The Joys of Growing Old
Give a listen for a few minutes…..(Make sure you turn up the volume!):
List of Speaker Topics in this Series:
Fade in—Fade out—Adaptive Reasoning—Compressed Morbidity
The Arc of Time & Experience—Crummy habits
Joy 1—Better Handle on Emotions
Joy 2—Better at Relationships
Joy 3—The Power of Contentment
Joy 4—The NeoS brain & Cognitive/Creative abilities
Joy 5—Better Life Navigation
Joy 6—Gaining the Bigger Perspective & Onward
The Joys of Growing Old
If you’re willing to trust your own life as an exploration and a journey, you’ll find that your later decades hold more capacity for depth, joy and enrichment than your younger years.
- You may have more of a handle on your emotions
There is something to the idea that (many) people mellow with age. Certainly good health can and will help, but attitude ultimately determines your course. And that (more than health) is always a choice. That crabby older man you know was probably a crabby younger man. Age, like alcohol, exaggerates the traits that were already there.
- You get better at relationships
- You may feel more content
People around the globe commonly experience happiness in a “U-shaped pattern” over the course of their lifetimes. Although where this pattern fell within particular ages varied from culture to culture, the pattern held as a seemingly universal experience. Researchers even noted that apes appeared to move through the same model based on their caretakers’ reports.
Study authors noted that the midpoints generally represented the most crowded years when people are likely to feel overwhelmed by responsibilities and perhaps disillusioned with certain paths they’d chosen. Yet, as we age, something shifts and happiness swings upward again, whether it be acceptance of our circumstances, a lightening of our load, or a renewal through new interests or opportunities.
- You gain new cognitive and creative abilities
Yup, that’s right—new. All the talk today is usually about maintaining what we have, and while that’s important, aging offers its own novel benefits on the neurological front.
In the latter half of life, the two hemispheres of the brain increasingly integrate and functionally intertwine. Additionally, our “patterning” capacity (the ever complexifying networking of our many ideas and experiences that create new connections and combinations) further develops in these decades.
While these likely are meant to help compensate for the minor declines in certain cognitive abilities such as working memory, these enhanced means of cognitive integration open the door for more creative thought and advanced reasoning.
- You may be more satisfied in your career
- You’ll be better at navigating life’s challenges
Let’s be honest. When we’re young, we’re winging it. There’s a thrill to this exploratory, experimental time. Anything can feel possible. It’s vital to go through that period, to know that brand of euphoric, idealistic fervor—and, yet, it’s not the end-all.
Older adults are just plain better at focusing on the positives in life. And that is a very good thing!