Staying Happy as You Age

Happiness starts early; it is not something you try to begin as you enter your elder years. Growing research shows that people who are generous live longer, have fewer diseases and are happier. Working to increase the strengths of wisdom, generosity and gratitude when we’re young will keep us from feeling so alone when we get to the end of life. In fact, six virtues that are common to happy people were determined

by psychologists Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman; they are wisdom, courage, love, justice, temperance and transcendence. They can be broken down and fostered, but in the end it is about giving your time and being truly concerned about others that makes you more interesting.

To practice the virtues does take time and can be nurtured. For instance, practice gratitude by writing down what you are thankful for in a daily journal. It’s been shown to increase generosity, compassion and life satisfaction. Encourage love by reaching out to someone in need, being their strength. Practice your own moderation and self-restraint as a goal in temperance. Find something especially good about your life and transcend any difficulties by exploring the many avenues open to you. To have a happy old age, cultivate virtues and new and old friendships. They are what last and provide happiness.

Our fundamental self is neither our body nor our brain. As we grow older we become more of who we authentically are – that which doesn’t die. If you can picture the way you want to age it will help you go down that path. You are in control of your life satisfaction.

Read more from author and professor Kerry Burnight, Ph.D., founder of the nation’s first Elder Abuse Forensic Center and chief gerontologist with grandPad.

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