“I wish somebody would have told me then… that someday these would be the good old days. All the love you won’t forget, and all these reckless nights you won’t regret. Someday soon, your whole life’s gonna change. You’ll miss the magic of these good old days…” ~Macklemore ft. Kesha, “Good Old Days.”
As adults, we often fall into the trap of believing it was better to be young. We look back on the past and remember how our friendships, relationships, and experiences felt, and we either relive them as a magical time or feel regret that we didn’t do more, wishing we were young again.
It’s a common feeling. It also tends to be incorrect, at least according to data. Research shows that it is in fact older people that are happier than younger people, and that as we age our happiness levels increase.
Why Would Older People Be Happier?
One of the main reasons that older people feel happier is because age gains a wisdom and understanding that helps with stress coping and life fulfillment. They begin to understand that the ups and downs of life are just that, and that they don’t experience them with the same roller coasters of emotion.
They also develop a deeper understanding of who THEY ARE, and what THEY LIKE. While youth spend so much time trying to navigate the challenges of inexperience, adults embrace themselves as they get older, developing a more realistic expectation of what they can enjoy and then prioritizing that enjoyment. They spend more of their time on the things they believe will make them happy, and spend less time trying to find happiness in the unknown.
Why Do We Still Think Younger People Have It Better?
Even though on almost every scale adults get happier as they get older, if you ask most older adults whether it’s better to be older or younger, most will still say younger. Why?
There is something magical about seeing life for the first time – that first love, that first party, that first group of friends. It’s hard to deny that that first time experiences can leave a magical memory, or that there aren’t parts of our youth that we wish we could get back. Indeed, we are imagining being young with our adult minds. But our young minds were not in the same place they are now.
In addition, certainly it’s easier to have regret for our past than it is pay attention to the future, and aging may cause a longing for youth for things like:
- Greater Awareness of Life Mortality
- Desire to Do Youthful Things
- Fewer Responsibilities
But while believing that being younger is better is common, research shows that it’s better to be an adult. Looking at youth through adult eyes can of course make it seem like a better time, but for adults, your life right now is statistically going to get happier each and every day. If you find yourself unhappy, give me a call today for therapy and counseling services.