How to stay, or get, happy in later life #happinesshabitsWIP


In some cultures, older people are respected, revered even. In ours, not so much. Everywhere we go, we see images of young beautiful people, anti-ageing products, older people referred to as “dinosaurs” or as a burden. The little media coverage that older people do receive tends to focus on what’s difficult: loneliness, dementia, social care.

But maybe we could all do with listening to older people on how to be happy. The difficult issues are very real, but when you talk to people, most say that there are things about later life that make you happier. There’s something about learning what’s important to you and letting go of the silly things like status that brings a sense of contentment for many people.

Our friends at Outside the Box @OTBcommunities  asked older people what keeps them happy as part of Mental Health Awareness Month this May. The answers they got were inspirational. Of course, it’s different for everyone, but the biggest theme seems to be “just keep going”. Keep connecting with people. Keep singing. Keep gardening. Keep dancing. Keep learning. We know that old age doesn’t come on its own, but whatever the limitations, there are creative ways to get round them. We spoke to Anne Connor from Outside the Box and their next project will be offering chair belly dancing in care homes. Amazing.

Here’s a couple of highlights. You can read all about the study at Outside the Box’s Wisdom in Practice website.

Keep dancing
“My first happiness habit is definitely to keep dancing as long as I am mobile. I meet people in their 80s who are still dancing- it’s good for the memory, balance, motor skills, making the effort to get dressed up and go out in a social setting and talk to people, keeping the chemistry and physical closeness going in a partnership and for fun and laughter. All perfect ingredients in a happiness habits recipe!”
Sandra, Aberdeen

Keep connecting
 “Spending time with family and friends who love us and appreciate us so that there are plenty of good positive vibes of laughter and love surrounding us.”

Keep learning
We have 220 members who get a lot of happiness from learning something new every day. You are never too old to learn.”
Aberdeen University of the Third Age



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3 Responses to How to stay, or get, happy in later life #happinesshabitsWIP

  1. Pru Davies July 3, 2015 at 9:35 pm #

    I totally get where Outside the Box are coming from. Age is after all just a number but with age comes experience, learning from your mistakes as well as successes, being able to let go and throw caution to the wind. Personally as I look forward to my sixties, I can reflect on my fifties, forties, thirties and twenties and smile. I have done so much with my life and you know what I wouldn’t change a thing. What doesn’t break you makes you stronger. I am now at a point in my life where I can stand back & reflect on the past two decades as a person who just happens to have Bipolar along with severe mobility issues due to Arthuritis. That doesn’t define me. I have that same zest for life but with my husband/soul-mate by my side now we can do so much more together. My mother is 96 and living independently so maybe it’s in the genes, who knows what the future will bring, but it’s looking good.

  2. Amy July 15, 2015 at 9:09 pm #

    Lovely post. We can all learn so much from other people regardless of age. Good to see the wisdom of older people being promoted.

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