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Achieve Greater Happiness as You Age

Written by Paul Wolf

Happiness and agingYou can choose to be happy. With age, we are actually programmed to become more emotionally stable and have the wisdom to choose people and goals that make us happy. 

Perhaps you were happier in your youth but chances are you weren't, according to mounting research.

Survey after survey reveals people gain a greater emotional stability, the bedrock of happiness, as they grow older. Understanding why may help you make full use of your happiness edge.

Youth seems to be a time of dramatic mood swings , distorted thinking, unrealistic expectations, manic highs and lows, reckless behavior and a feverish struggle to define the self. "Storms of youth" is more than an elegant turn of phrase.<

Recent studies and as far back as November 1998 Journal of Personality and Social Psychology article reports that men and women both grow happier throughout their adult lives. Authors Daniel Mroczek and Christian Kolarz say their study and dozens of others suggest age influences well being more than sickness, economic conditions and life events. In The Pursuit of Happiness, David Myers provides a partial explanation: "With age, stress declines ," he writes. "The upheavals and traumas of dating, child rearing and vocation are behind you."

But there has to be more to the story. Middle-age people have their own struggles, such as menopause, midlife crisis, aging parents and health problems. Mroczek and Kolarz offered a slightly radical explanation: We are programmed to move toward greater contentment.

For reasons unknown, they say, humans develop a "greater regulation of emotion" with time. Is it hormonal, biochemical? One way or another, the statistics for murder, suicide and even divorce support the theory.

Of course, there are enough joyful and miserable souls of all ages to go around. Still, if it's true you have a happiness edge, you ought to take advantage of it. 

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