Feeling older? Dismayed by the wrinkles in the mirror? Here’s the good news on aging – new studies reveal that as we get older we actually get happier!
A new study conducted by Professor Derek Isaacowitz of Northeastern University reveals that the older we get the more likely we are to display positive emotions and to escape from negative emotional states faster than when we are younger. This seems to fly against everything we thought about aging – given that our bodies may not be in the same shape as they were in our 20’s! Shouldn’t we be worrying about those wrinkles, health concerns, that spreading waistline, the fact you can’t remember where you put your keys? What Professor Isaacowitz found was that the older we get the better we get at regulating our emotions. We ‘choose’ to focus away from the negative or toward positive material. Added to this of course is pure life experience. Something that has the power to faze you in your 20’s or 30’s may not upset you so much in your 40’s or 50’s due to the fact you have by then dealt with similar situations and you have more confidence in your problem-solving skills.
Another study also conducted by Prof. Isaacowitz and late fellow-researcher Fredda Blanchard-Fields of the Georgia Institute of Technology also found that as we get older we tend to focus more on positive events and dwell less on negative ones – thus ‘re-framing’ key periods in our lives. When older participants in the study were shown photographs they recalled happier events and times rather than negative ones and also showed a greater aptitude for letting go of loss and unachieved goals which in turn lead to a greater sense of wellbeing.
We know that spiritually our thoughts create our experience. While we can’t always avoid negative people and experiences in our life we can always choose how we react to them. And as for goals we fail to achieve – as we grow some goals may lose their meaning for us and new ones will take their place. Letting go of these and setting new ones for ourselves serve our spiritual and personal growth.
So, don’t think of yourself as getting older – think of yourself as gaining in experience that allows you to shift your perceptions. We’re all enjoying increasing life expectancy. Isn’t it good to know that as we do we’ll live happier as well? Happiness may be a choice we can all make after all.
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