Friday, May 28, 2010

Things to Look Forward To

Older Americans are happier:
Despite weighty concerns such as aging, planning for retirement or caring for older friends and family, people in the U.S. seem to get happier with age. A new study reports that these changes are consistent regardless of whether individuals were employed, had young children at home or lived with a partner.

General well-being (characterized by how people currently felt about their life) fell sharply through the age of 25 and tapered more gradually overall until the ages of 50 to 53. And by the early 70s, that wellbeing was back up to late-teen levels.

"As people age, they are less troubled by stress and anger," the researchers noted in their study, which was led by Arthur Stone, of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at Stony Brook University, and published online May 17 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "And although worry persists, without increasing, until middle age, " they continued, "it too fades after the age of 50."
In some moods I think this points to something wrong with our lives. But it may be just a cruel evolutionary trick. For the species to thrive, people aged 15 to 45 have to get up and do lots of stuff: hunt, gather, find mates, establish territories, fend off enemies. And it seems that happiness and contentment are bad motivators. So to make us get up and do things, our genes inflict us with agitation, anxiety, ambition, anger, lust, greed, and a general restlessness. Only those people excused from effort, the young and the old, are freed from this hormonal assault on our well being.


Unknown said...

Did the survey control for anti-depressant use? Your theory sounds like the right direction to me, but I do wonder if perhaps by the early fifties more people have given it up and decided to go on the 'zac.

John said...

After a great deal of searching I have determined that the researchers did consider and rule out the use of anti-depressants and a factor.