The Paradox of Aging

Positivity goes a long way.  That’s the message Laura Carstensen delivers in her TedTalks video,  Older people are happier. Carstensen, a psychologist and director of the Stanford Center on Longevity, has “extensively studied the effects on well being of extended lifetimes.” In this video, she lightheartedly demonstrates through a series of studies that older people are happier people.
She discovered that with age, there are changes in our ability to monitor our own lifetimes. Younger people are trying to soak up all the information they can by taking risks, exploring, and meeting new people because everything is interesting and there’s always something more to see or do. But…
“As we age, our time horizons grow shorter, and our goals change,” Carstensen says in the video.  “When we recognize we don’t have all the time in the world we see our priorities most clearly.  We take less notice of trivial matters, and we savour life.  We’re more appreciative, more open to reconciliation.  We invest in more emotionally important parts of life and life gets better.  So we’re happier, day-to-day.”
The paradox of aging isn’t in what there is to dwell on, but in what there is to look forward to.  As the aging adult encounters each curve ball that continues to be thrown in this game called life, they can choose whether or not it is worth their time to dwell on the situation.  By focusing on what matters, life becomes more enticing, and the world continues to open up with opportunity.
To watch the 12 minute video of Laura Carstensen’s talk, click below.

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