WebMD BlogsRelationships

The Good News About Getting Older

mature couple looking out onto field
Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD - Blogs
By Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhDPsychologistJuly 3, 2019
From the WebMD Archives

Getting older can be scary. But what many people fail to realize is that it also often brings greater happiness and general satisfaction.

While middle adulthood is filled with the many responsibilities of careers and family, later adulthood frequently offers greater freedom from these burdens. In fact, many studies have shown that people are often happier as they mature past middle age. For instance, one study by the researchers David Blanchflower and Andrew Oswald studied the happiness of people in 72 countries. They found that in the majority of countries, people are least happy during their late 40s but often experience much greater happiness and life satisfaction in the years that follow.

When people no longer have so many daily responsibilities, they can take life at a slower pace. They can think more about their lives and with more perspective, which is something that can also come naturally with age. As a result, as you age, it’s easier to be clear about your priorities and invest your time and attention on the things that matter most to you. (This reminds me of my grandmother’s oft-repeated advice that when you have your health, you have everything – wisdom lost on a young, healthy child who took their health for granted.) Living more fully in line with their true priorities, older people often experience a sense of well-being.

Age also frequently brings a mellowing. People who were once impulsive, angry, or highly concerned about what everyone else thought of them frequently become less intensely emotional in these areas. You may worry less about the judgment of others, feel better about yourself, and have less disruptive and more fulfilling relationships.

As you age, you may also find yourself measuring your life by the amount of time you have left, which can motivate you to find a way to make peace with your life. You may be more likely to work on letting go of, or being less consumed by, disappointments, regrets, and grudges. And you may be more open to enjoying life’s joys and blessings – both big and small.

If you take good care of your body and mind as you go into your golden years, you are even more likely to flourish on physical, emotional, and social levels. Much of this comes down to maintaining a healthy lifestyle: exercising regularly, getting sufficient sleep (including taking naps as necessary), having a healthy diet, and keeping an active, emotionally supportive social life. It’s also important to keep your mind sharp by reading, learning new things, and remaining intellectually engaged in the world around you. And if you make efforts to cultivate a positive attitude, as well, you’ll have a winning combination.

Of course, not everyone becomes happier as they age. Some people are overcome by the many stresses and struggles of aging. Others simply mature from unhappy younger people into unhappy older ones. Still, aging can have its benefits. And if you focus on the upsides, you give yourself an even better chance of being happy and content as you progress into what will hopefully truly be your “golden years.”

WebMD Blog
© 2019 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.
Blog Topics:
About the Author
Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD

Dr. Becker-Phelps is a licensed psychologist in NJ and NY, and is on staff at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, Somerset. She is dedicated to helping people understand themselves and what they need to do to become emotionally and psychologically healthy. She accomplishes this through her work as a psychotherapist, speaker and writer. She is the author of Bouncing Back from Rejection and Insecure in Love.

More from the Relationships Blog

  • giving advice

    Think Twice Before You Give Advice

    If only we were as good at solving our own problems as we are at solving other people’s. But like so many great ideas, our solutions for others often become less perfect the more we learn about the problem ...

  • photo of couple arguing in bed

    How to Keep Your Emotions From Overwhelming You

    If you’re someone who gets emotionally overwhelmed, relationship conflict can be difficult to manage. When you get upset with your partner, you don’t handle it well. You are too upset to think clearly. So you ...

View all posts on Relationships

Latest Blog Posts on WebMD

View all blog posts

Important: The opinions expressed in WebMD Blogs are solely those of the User, who may or may not have medical or scientific training. These opinions do not represent the opinions of WebMD. Blogs are not reviewed by a WebMD physician or any member of the WebMD editorial staff for accuracy, balance, objectivity, or any other reason except for compliance with our Terms and Conditions. Some of these opinions may contain information about treatments or uses of drug products that have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. WebMD does not endorse any specific product, service or treatment.

Do not consider WebMD Blogs as medical advice. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your care plan or treatment. WebMD understands that reading individual, real-life experiences can be a helpful resource, but it is never a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a qualified health care provider. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or dial 911 immediately.

Read More