Did you know that older adults are often just as satisfied with their lives as a younger or middle-aged adult is? In fact, older adults have a lot more going for them.
Overall, you are more stable and have less intense emotions to similar life events than the very strong emotions a younger person may feel. You have had success, heartache, happiness, and loss. All of these experiences provide a rich foundation for you to continue building your life upon.
Through your life experiences you have likely learned skills that help you cope with many situations. Each person develops a set of skills to help them deal with the curves that life will throw at us. Areas of your life that have little to no relationship with how you cope or feel about life are level of education, income, and whether you are a man or a woman.
There are some areas that do have a relationship to how you satisfied you are with your life. These are all areas that you have control over and can change if need be. One of the most important is your relationship to your family. In his autobiography, Chrysler Chairman Lee Iacocca says, “Yes, I’ve had a wonderful and successful career. But next to my family, it really hasn’t mattered at all.” Tell your family they matter to you, spend time together and strengthen family ties. Other areas that can increase your satisfaction with life are:
- Sense of Control: Feeling that you are in control of your life is important to a hopeful outlook. Take stock of what conditions you do have control over and what is possible. Making small changes in areas that improve your life can help increase your sense of well-being and sense of control.
- Social Activity: Are you too busy and need to slow down? Or would you like to be more involved in activities where you interact with others, activities that are energizing and creative? Look at your schedule and make changes that will bring you joy.
- View of Heath: What you think about your health is more important to your life satisfaction than what your doctor says. This means that if you label yourself as “ill” or “disabled” you may feel worse about your life. Use more positive words like “I’m slowing down a bit”, “having a temporary health set back” or “just feeling achy today.”
- Spirituality: Research shows that people who are religious or feel that religion is important in their life have greater life satisfaction and live longer.
- Goals: Being committed to short term, realistic goals will help you feel better about your life. Make a list of things to do today, this week, and this month. Review and update it daily.
- Jobs: Being a part of something bigger than you and continuing to feel productive and responsible are important aspects to enjoying life. A job, whether it is paid or not paid, usually makes you feel more satisfied with life. Pay, hours per week, or levels of responsibility are not the most important things about having a job. This can be as simple as bringing in the mail for the elderly person next door or as demanding as volunteering 40 hours a week.
No one expects you to be rosy or cheery all of the time. You may feel very dissatisfied with life if you have had a series of recent negative events in your life. Also, if you are going through times of major transition, like moving to a new home or the loss of a loved one, these events can greatly affect how you feel about life for several weeks.
Although it looks like the 20-Something Crowd is having all of the fun on TV, it is nice to know that older adults can do life, do it well, and be just as satisfied.