Regardless of age, who doesn’t want more joy in their lives? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Some estimates of major depression in older people living in the community range from less than 1% to about 5% but rise to 13.5% in those who require home healthcare and to 11.5% in older hospitalized patients.”
While major or clinical depression is best left to doctors, we can all help to increase our own joy or the joy of a loved one, no matter the age. A Stanford University study that was done over 12 years from 1993 to 2005 showed that in general, people became happier the older they became. As per Stanford News, “The undertaking was an effort to answer questions asked over and over again by social scientists: Are seniors today who say they’re happy simply part of a socioeconomic era that predisposed them to good cheer? Or do most people – whether born and reared in boom times or busts – have it within themselves to reach their golden years with a smile?
The answer has important implications for future aging societies. ‘Our findings suggest that it doesn’t matter when you were born,’ Carstensen said. ‘In general, people get happier as they get older.’ ”
This is great news! So how do we help ourselves to experience more joy in our later years?
Top Secret Tips to Add Joy to Your Life
Adjust Your Perspective
No matter how old you are, focusing on what you can’t do is a sure recipe for failure and frustration. Instead, flip your focus to what your abilities are, what you can do and what you do well. A number of studies show that when we accept aging and age related issues, we end up as happier people and are more highly likely to experience success in aging as it relates to well being.
Focusing on activities that we do well and enjoy is a key. For more on that see below.
That Thing You Love To Do? Do It
Do you have certain activities or hobbies that make you happy? If you already can think of them, you should be doing them, as often as your heart desires. Whether it’s collecting, crafts, cooking, writing or creating art, get at it.
If you can’t think of an activity in your life that currently brings you joy, think back to a time when something you used to do did so. Often returning to things we used to enjoy will bring us joy anew. Provided it’s not harmful to ourselves or to others, then enjoy away!
Karl Pillemer of Cornell University made the distinction between “happy in spite of” and “happy if only.” “Happy-if-only” dictates that once things in our lives change for the better or if “fill-in-the-blank” happens, then we’ll be happy. To be “happy in spite of” indicates that when we choose to be happy in spite of the things in our lives that aren’t perfect, we can truly achieve an attitude shift.
Stay Socially Connected
It’s been a challenging year and a half, with pandemic concerns crossing the globe. Many of us have learned how to Zoom, to play games online and hopefully stay connected with the ones we love. Now that we’re entering the re-opening phase in the United States, we can start to safely gather with family and friends.
If you’ve been fully vaccinated (you’re considered fully vaccinated two weeks after vaccination has been completed), then feel free to follow the CDC Guidelines. If you haven’t been vaccinated or are choosing not to be, then please consider continuing to observe social distancing guidelines.
Make Others’ Lives Better
Volunteering or spending time giving back to the community has so many advantages for all involved. It could be something as simple as volunteering at the local animal shelter (if you love animals), knitting scarves or blankets for the less fortunate or lending a hand at your local library or elementary school. Giving back to our community, whether local or global, gives a sense of purpose and a deep satisfaction and gratitude for life.
Laugh (You Know You Want To)
Laughter is healing medicine. It can boost stress immunity, relax muscles and even help to prevent heart disease. Some studies are showing promising results in linking regular time spent laughing and memory improvements. Have a look at more detailed information here.
Now that the weather is better in most parts of the U.S., go outside. Sunshine is a mood booster and adding a little bit of exercise, like walking outdoors will improve your physical health as well as your mental well-being. Getting additional Vitamin D in a natural way is good for your immune system, your blood and bones and even your outlook!
Bonus Top Secret Tip
You are a special and unique individual. You’ve spent years becoming who you are and deserve to celebrate it. Smile, maintain your sense of humor and enjoy life. Wear the clothing you want to wear and represent the things in your life which are important to you. Being true to yourself will never fail you.
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*This post is not sponsored, but may contain external links to websites, articles or product examples. External links are used for example or refence purposes only and these links do not indicate specific product or website endorsement by CareGivers of America.