Thursday, October 28, 2010

Stanford: Getting Older Leads to Greater Happiness

Pixar's Up. From RTE 2FM.
Good news for those of you who get older over time:  a new report from Stanford says that people grow happier and more emotionally stable as they age. Starting in 1993, the study tracked around 180 Americans between the ages of 18 and 94, with new participants added to replace those who died or aged out of their groups. For one week every five years, participants carried a buzzer that would ask them questions about their mood (hopefully controlling for the annoyance of being interrupted by a buzzer all the time).

Laura Carstensen, the study's lead researcher and the director of Stanford's Center on Longevity, says, "As people age, they're more emotionally balanced and better able to solve highly emotional problems...  They care more and are more compassionate about problems, and that may lead to a more stable world." This is important because as the world gets healthier, we also live longer, and within 20 years, more Americans will be over 60 years old than under 15. Previous studies have shown correlations between age and happiness, but this may be the first to examine change in individuals over such a long period.

Great news, because the conclusions apply not just to the Greatest Generation, but to aging people in all generations. If you've discovered the fountain of youth, you're missing out!

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