Happiness, the U-Bend and Bhutan
Why do people talk of the horrors of old age? It’s great. I feel like a fine old car with the parts gradually wearing out, but I’m not complaining,… Those who find growing old terrible are people who haven’t done what they wanted with their lives. ~ Martha Geilhorn
So for today’s post I want to start by giving huge kudos to the tiny little country of Bhutan. I just learned recently that way back in 1972, the King of Bhutan declared that he was more interested in the level of Gross Domestic Happiness than in the Gross Domestic Product.
Although Bhutan was the first country to consider the idea, it seems that other countries are starting to consider the idea as well, according to an article in the December 18th issue of The Economist. The article entitled, The Joy of Growing Old,( or why life begins at 46), discussed the idea of happiness over people’s lifetime. The research shows that happiness seems to follow a U-shaped curve where people are happier at the beginning and the end of their lives with the bottom of the curve, the least happiest age for people is 46, did I mentioned I’m 46?
It’s not surprisingly that given stress is a major cause of unhappiness, as you start to chart the stress and responsibilities across a person’s life you get this same U-bend curve. The researchers did mention that it may not be a coincidence that a lot of people in their mid-40’s are living at home with teenagers and are also at the most unhappy age. The other thing the article discussed was that as people age they have a tendency to be wealthier, less stressed and generally less encumbered while older people are also less angry and less likely to pass judgment.
The good news is that what people come to in their older age, we can come to earlier, even at 46. We need to find ways to relax, not fixate on the stressors in our lives and learn how to be less angry and not pass judgment. As we’ve talked about in the past this can be accomplished by knowing our own mind and working on becoming more balanced, meditation can be a great help. And in the end, if that doesn’t work, just hang in their til you hit your 50’s and then have happy days my friends ~ Rev Kane
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