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But is this something we can achieve and remain happy with our lives? As our bodies and mind age, does it become more difficult to maintain happiness? Or is this an assumption made from an ever increasingly youth obsessed culture?
World increasingly values youth over age
It seems that the world increasingly values youth over age. It is estimated that the anti aging market will be worth a staggering 19.7 Billion USD globally by 2019. With so much potential profit linked to the belief that youth is good and age is bad, it is little wonder that advertising fuels this social fear of aging which inevitably leads to us developing an automatic assumption that we will be unhappy when we are old.
It seems to me that aging has started to be looked upon as a treatable disease, not a natural biological process. What would happen if we challenge this assumption?
Myth that all things youthful are positive
Personally, I have learned that for me, if there is a link at all with regard to age and happiness, it is that I have become increasing happy with every additional year! I look back on my youth with self compassion, forgiveness and a wry smile at the less fortunate decisions I made, but not with any kind of sorrow or yearning for my lost years. It would appear that in order to preserve the myth that all things youthful are positive; we have negated the positive aspects of maturity and age.
My wisdom, my knowledge, my perspective on life changes experientially, hence, the older I get the more experience I have to draw on and whilst my body may slow down, my mind becomes a more open and exciting place to inhabit, making it easier to maintain a level of happiness that seemed much more elusive in my youth.
Benefits of happiness into old age
The benefits of happiness into your old age are well documented. Following a recent 8 year study, Dr. Andrew Steptoe of University College London concluded that “older people who are happier and enjoy life more show slower declines in physical function as they age,” and furthermore, “This is not because the happier people are in better health, or younger, or richer, or have more healthy lifestyles at the outset, since even when we take these factors into account, the relationship persists.”
From this then, one could conclude that not only is happiness beneficial to the elderly in terms of increased health and well-being, but in fact, may in itself play a significant role in actually increasing your lifespan.
Value we place only on youth
I suggest that the healthiest option may be, to let go of this value we place only on youth, and learn that happiness can not only increase with age, but that without the constant need to achieve which can dominate youth and which dissipates with age, it might actually be easier to attain and in reality, it may just prove to be the (free) magic ingredient to ensuring we are lucky enough to experience living to 100.