Social scientists say that, generally, older adults report higher levels of happiness than younger adults, and often cite reason such as better financial stability and more stable relationships. Writer and social scientist Arthur C. Brooks says that happiness doesn’t happen by luck, but comes from personal work and careful attention.
Brooks notes that finding this happiness can be harder for high achievers. If you spent your life working hard to be exceptional at what you were doing, it can be much harder to face inevitable decline. In his book From Strength to Strength: Finding Success, Happiness, and Deep Purpose in the Second Half of Life, Brooks offers the following guidance to finding happiness later in life.
Invest in Two Types of Intelligence
Two types of intelligence seem to be crucial to happiness later in life. Fluid intelligence is our problem-solving ability – the ability to think creatively and figure things out. Crystalized intelligence can be described as wisdom – the knowledge and experience we have gained throughout our lives. Crystallized intelligence naturally increases in the second half of life. While we should work to keep our fluid intelligence skills sharp, our confidence in our accumulated wisdom makes us more likely to be happy.
According to Brooks, we need to let go of the idea that we will be the same throughout our lives – that things like our strengths, interests and priorities will remain unchanged. You will change. Your abilities, your views, your priorities will change. That’s good and natural, and the flexibility to accept those changes gives you opportunities to find new relationships and interests, and build new skills – things that are meaningful now and will increase your happiness moving forward.
Do the Work Now
Wherever you are in the journey, it’s never too early or too late to invest in your future happiness, but doing it sooner rather than later increases your odds of being happier than ever as you age. According to Brooks, you might even find that just taking the time to think about what intention you want to set for the coming years might bring a surge of optimism that can set you on a happier course.
At The Joseph Group, our mission is helping create great lives, one story at a time, and happiness is key to a great life! So accept the changes that are coming down the road. Invest in relationships, learn some new skills, and trust your hard-earned wisdom. Lean in to rest of your journey with joy!
Written by Michelle O’Brien, Manager of Marketing & Communications
Source: Lebowitz Ross, Holly, (March 24, 2022) How to Find Happiness in the Second Half of Life, guideposts.com