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It's True - Retirement Really Can Be The Happiest Time Of Our Lives!

We may be moaning about our changing bodies, health problems, readjustments to our life style as we age. However, in recent years there have been an increasing number of professional studies into ageing, especially in America, and it really does seem that retirement years - whether we are part time working or fully retired - can offer us the time of our lives.

A big aspect appears to be our knowledge of ourselves and acceptance of who we are now we are older. Last year a major Australian study found that as we age we accept who we are and this is a major factor is satisfaction in later life.

This was backed up by American psychoanalyst Ken Eisold. Ken is a recognised expert in his field, a Past-President of the International Society for the Psychoanalystic Study of organisations and a founding member of the Organsation Program at the William Alanson White Institute. Ken says that
as we age, we focus more and more on who we are rather than who we need to become.

"We relax into being ourselves,” he said. “This acceptance brings diminished anxiety and a higher degree of enjoyment."

This has been confirmed by research from Brown University in America, who found that the older we get, the more we appreciate little things in life. Their report found that young people seek and really value extraordinary experiences such as travel or thrill-seeking because this can help them to build a greater sense of personal identity. Older adults, on the other hand, assign higher value to ordinary experiences and everyday pleasures, and derive identity from these types of experiences.

Peter Camprariello, assistant professor at Stony Brook University in America, said this really is just what you would expect. “It makes sense that you start to put emphasis on savoring what you already have when your time starts to become limited,” he said.

The American Psychological Association backs up this research, saying that despite worries about ill health, income, changes in social status and bereavements, later life tends to be a golden age, with older people having learned to avoid situations which make them feel sad or stressed.

America seems to have put a lot of money and resources into investigating older age. Dr Laura Carstensen, a psychology professor at the renowned Stanford University, carried out a full survey a while ago which found that older people were far less likely than younger people to experience persistent negative moods. She also said her research showed that older people were far more resilient to hearing personal criticism and were better at controlling and balancing their emotions, a skill that improves the older we become.

The positive news about older people’s happiness is continuing. Only this month UK’s respected neuroscience and health writer Carolyn Gregoire put together a major report for the Huffington Post confirming that the older we get, generally the happier we become. She underlined the information from a major recent study that suggested there might be two major peaks of life satisfaction; one in the early 20s and one in old age, with the ages of 23 and 69 actually being the happiest years. From the mid 20s it was found that happiness generally declined until the mid 50s after which it increased again into the 80s and sometimes beyond.

These facts were corroborated by a separate Gallup poll that suggested happiness was positively linked with age.

Deodorant brand Sure last year undertook a happiness and age survey, and this reports evidence of increasing contentment with age. Sure’s Hannah Kehow said that the survey indicated that people are happiest once they've already accomplished some of their major life goals; then they are able to let go and enjoy the ride.

As the British population ages, more and more research is being done into all aspects of ageing. With a bit of planning and thought, it really does seem that many of us really can expect to have the time of our lives during later life!

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