A newly released survey by Australian Wellbeing involving 60,000 participants was conducted twice a year for 15 years. It found that people aged 55+ were the most contented.
Further ‘The Golden Triangle of Happiness’ gives three main indicators for happiness and contentment; they are:
Paul Dolan, Professor at London School of Economics has written a book called ‘Happiness by Design’. As a Professor of both economics and behavioural science he believes that mental health is the most important factor for personal welfare. However, when he talks to politicians he uses the terminology ‘Minimising Suffering and Misery’. This gets an empathetic reply where as if he uses the words ‘Maximising Happiness’ people often think of this as trivial or trite.
Many suggest helping others is the road to success. However, the Australian Wellbeing Survey showed that carers where the most unhappy people. Whilst money is cited as important after a given sum it becomes irrelevant. The survey showed AU$100,000 as the cut-off point before money lost meaning for happiness via security. Good relationships were cited as the need to have two close friends and numbers in excess of that are not important. I was fascinated with these viewpoints.
My husband and I were walking in our local park last week, enjoying the spring weather. It was a beautiful day and the trees were resplendent with new leaves, baby ducks were swimming in the river and there was a sense of promise and calm.
Along the way we met a local couple and stopped to chat. We got onto the subject of ailments. One of our friends was having physio for a sore back. The other had an infected insect bite, I had a blister from new sports shoes and my husband was complaining of a stiff neck from cleaning the gutters. Welcome to old age said my husband!
What we were doing dawned on us and we broke out into laughter and quickly changed the subject. Our friends had just returned from a wonderful European tour and David and I were planning a holiday for 2016. Far too many blessings to allow a good day to be spoilt. After a good chat and a promise to meet up for dinner we went on our separate ways. I am aware that it is important to listen to friends who are grieving, upset or perhaps depressed but that said, it is important to enjoy life and to count our blessings.
I mulled over the Wellbeing findings, Professor Dolan’s philosophy and thought back to Aristotle who is credited with the introduction of the ‘Science of Happiness’. The maxim, ‘it’s not so much what happens to us as our attitude to it’ was ringing a bell. Whilst I know life will throw up many things that are difficult to deal with I have learned through the years that there is a pretty even balance of the good things in life and the sad ones. Aristotle further believed that both physical and mental health were a key to happiness.
Many believe added to the three prong ‘golden triangle of happiness’ is a good diet, exercise and a positive attitude. I believe that many people who are 55+ have come to grips with what they need in their lives. They are no longer bogged down by a lot of irrelevant trivia and know what is important, what will keep them buoyant and travel along a path to contentment by minimising their suffering.
I for one no longer stress out on things that are not life threatening. I can enjoy my adult children without feeling responsible for them. The mortgage is paid off and whilst not rich my husband and I can indulge in many of the good things in life. Our relationship is very important to us both and we value our health and try to look after body, mind and soul.
I guess we will always find something to have a moan about but once that’s over its time to get back into positive thoughts and put a smile back into the day. I believe older people realise there isn’t enough time to waste it by being down in the mouth and sporting a twenty past eight (a down turned mouth) when we can smile and enjoy our day.