Why Betty White Is Happier Than Ever

I’m coming a little late to this, but a 13-year study by Laura Carstensen, a psychologist and director of the Stanford Center on Longevity, found that as we get older, we become more emotionally stable, making us “better able to solve highly emotional problems,” she says, and happier.

Her research showed that older people report feeling more positive emotions and less negative emotions than when they were younger. Yet they’re also more likely than younger people to report feeling a mix of positive and negative emotions—probably because older people are more aware of their own mortality, meaning that happy moments are tinged with the realization that life is short and time is limited. According to Carstensen, this is “a signal of strong emotional health and balance.”

Older people experience less stress than younger people do, she says, since they face less uncertainty over how their lives will turn out and have usually made peace with their successes and failures. And when people realize that time is running out, she adds, they tend to invest in the things that really matter to them, an effect she calls “socio-emotional selectivity.”

If people become more emotionally stable as they age, “older societies could be wiser and kinder societies,” Carstensen explains in a write-up of her research, and as the baby boomers get older:

We may be seeing a larger group of people who can get along with a greater number of people. They care more and are more compassionate about problems, and that may lead to a more stable world.

Category: Positive Psychology


One Response

  1. Linda L Hill says:

    As a Baby Boomer myself, I will agree with this article to a point, where I do not agree is with the statement that as we grow older we consentrate on those things that are more important to us because we are conscious of our eventual death. The change in us as we age comes from that aging process, the change in harmone levels that give us greying hair and wrinkled skin. Along with these changes hopefully we will also have learned who we are and at ease with that realization. Sincerely, Linda L Hill

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