10 daily habits that make happier as you get older, according to psychology

Avatar by Lachlan Brown | June 11, 2024, 11:46 pm

There’s a marked difference between simply growing older and growing older with joy.

The difference boils down to habits. Growing older is inevitable, but doing so with a sense of happiness? That’s a choice we make, and our daily habits play a crucial role in it.

As per psychology, there are certain practices that, when incorporated into our daily routines, can significantly enhance our joy as we age.

I’m here to share with you 10 such daily habits that can make you happier as you get older, backed by the science of psychology.

Not just any tips, these are ones that are easy to adopt and could transform your golden years into truly happy ones.

1) Practice Gratitude

Growing older comes with its own set of challenges, and it’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of life’s ups and downs.

And that’s where the power of gratitude comes in.

Gratitude is more than just saying ‘thank you’. It’s about acknowledging the good in your life and recognizing that the source of this goodness is outside of yourself.

As the famous psychologist, Robert Emmons, once said, “Gratitude is a way for people to appreciate what they have instead of always reaching for something new in the hopes it will make them happier.”

Emmons’ research suggests that practicing gratitude can increase happiness levels by around 25%. It’s a simple yet powerful habit. You can start by keeping a daily journal where you jot down things you’re grateful for.

When you regularly practice gratitude, you’re likely to recognize the positive aspects of growing older instead of dwelling on negatives. This habit can help set a positive tone for your day and boost your mood as well.

But remember, consistency is key here. So make it a part of your daily routine and watch how it transforms your outlook as you age.

2) Stay Active

I’ve always believed that a body in motion stays in motion.

It was a few years ago when I first started to feel the aches and pains that come with age. At first, I thought it was just something I had to accept, a natural part of getting older. But then, I decided to take matters into my own hands and introduced regular exercise into my routine.

The results? Astounding. Not only did I feel more energetic, but my mood improved significantly, too. It’s incredible how something as simple as taking a half-hour walk every day can impact your overall happiness.

Regular physical activity helps to improve physical and mental functions as well as reverse some effects of chronic disease to keep older people mobile and independent, according to research

Staying active doesn’t necessarily mean hitting the gym for hours. It can be something you enjoy – dancing, swimming, yoga, or even gardening. The key is to keep moving and make this physical activity part of your everyday routine as you age.

Trust me; your older self will thank you for it.

3) Embrace Change

As we age, changes are inevitable. Our bodies change, our relationships evolve, and our circumstances shift. These changes can be scary and unsettling, but they’re also a natural part of life.

Mindfulness teaches us the concept of impermanence — the understanding that everything is constantly changing and nothing lasts forever. It’s a raw and honest truth that can be hard to accept. However, embracing impermanence can be a game-changer in our quest for happiness as we get older.

Rather than resisting change or clinging to the way things used to be, mindfulness encourages us to accept and appreciate the present moment for what it is. By accepting change as a natural part of life, we can learn to adapt more easily and reduce the stress and anxiety that often come with uncertainty.

Embracing impermanence doesn’t mean giving up or becoming passive. It means recognizing that change is a part of life and learning to live in harmony with it.

As you go about your daily routines, try to keep the concept of impermanence in mind. Let it remind you to appreciate the present moment, adapt to change, and find peace amidst the uncertainty of life as you age.

4) Maintain Social Connections

It’s easy to let relationships slide as we get older. I’ve been guilty of this myself, getting caught up in the humdrum of daily life and forgetting to invest time in my social connections.

But here’s the thing – humans are social creatures by nature. We thrive on interaction and connection.

In the words of the influential psychologist, Albert Bandura, “In order to succeed, people need a sense of self-efficacy, to struggle together with resilience to meet the inevitable obstacles and inequities of life.” And nothing builds resilience like a strong social network.

Keeping close ties with family, spending time with friends, attending community events, even just chatting with your neighbor over the fence – these social engagements can significantly enhance your happiness as you age.

Even if it feels like effort at times, make it a point to maintain and nurture your social connections. The benefits are worth it – trust me.

5) Learn to Let Go

Now, here’s a counterintuitive thought – sometimes, happiness isn’t about gaining but about letting go.

I know it sounds contradictory. We’re often taught to hold on, to fight, to never give up. But the truth is, there are things in life that we would be happier without.

Psychologist Carl Rogers once said, “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.” This acceptance also includes accepting that there are certain things, feelings or even people that we need to let go of for our own peace and happiness.

Letting go doesn’t mean forgetting or discarding memories. It’s about releasing the heavy burdens of resentment, guilt, or regret that we carry with us. It’s about freeing ourselves from the weight of the past so we can fully enjoy the present and look forward to the future.

As you age, learn to let go of what doesn’t serve your happiness anymore. It might be difficult at first, but it’s a step towards a more peaceful and happier you.

6) Practice self-compassion

As we get older, it’s easy to become our own harshest critic. We might dwell on past mistakes or worry about the future. But one thing I’ve learned, both personally and through my studies on Buddhism and mindfulness, is the power of self-compassion.

Self-compassion involves treating ourselves with the same kindness and understanding that we’d extend to a good friend. It’s about acknowledging our imperfections, accepting our mistakes, and understanding that everyone experiences hardship.

In my book Hidden Secrets of Buddhism: How To Live With Maximum Impact and Minimum Ego, I delve deeper into this concept and share practical ways to cultivate self-compassion.

One simple practice is to speak kindly to ourselves, especially during difficult times. Instead of being harsh or judgmental, we can offer ourselves words of comfort and encouragement.

No one is perfect. We all make mistakes and face challenges. But treating ourselves with compassion rather than criticism can greatly enhance our happiness as we age. It’s a habit I personally strive to maintain daily, and I invite you to do the same.

7) Keep Learning

Who says learning stops when we leave school? I’ve found that one of the most fulfilling aspects of growing older is the never-ending opportunity to learn.

Whether it’s picking up a new hobby, exploring a subject of interest, or even learning a new recipe – keeping your mind engaged and active can do wonders for your happiness.

Carol Dweck, the renowned psychologist who popularized the concept of ‘growth mindset,’ said, “Why waste time proving over and over how great you are, when you could be getting better?”

This quote perfectly captures the essence of lifelong learning. It’s not about proving anything to anyone. It’s about personal growth, curiosity, and the joy of discovery.

Keep that mind of yours curious. Dive into books, take classes, explore new ideas. As you age, you’ll find that continual learning not only keeps your mind sharp but also brings a sense of achievement and happiness.

8) Accept Imperfections

This one’s a hard pill to swallow. We live in a world that constantly pushes us to strive for perfection. But here’s an unfiltered truth – perfection is an illusion.

I’ve had my fair share of struggles with this. Trying to do everything perfectly, only to feel frustrated and unhappy when things didn’t go as planned.

It was the wise words of psychologist Brené Brown that helped me see things differently. She said, “Imperfections are not inadequacies; they are reminders that we’re all in this together.”

Accepting your imperfections doesn’t mean you stop trying to improve. It means understanding that it’s okay to make mistakes, to have flaws, and to be human. It takes off the immense pressure of trying to be ‘perfect’ and allows you to find happiness in being authentically you.

As you grow older, embracing your imperfections can lead to a more compassionate and fulfilling life. It’s not easy, but it’s definitely worth it.

9) Embrace Solitude

In a world that glorifies hustle and bustle, here’s something counterintuitive – finding joy in solitude.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting you turn into a hermit. The idea is to find balance and learn to appreciate moments of solitude.

Carl Jung, the influential psychologist, highlighted the importance of solitude when he said, “Loneliness does not come from having no people around, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important to oneself, or from holding certain views which others find inadmissible.”

With age often comes a deeper understanding of oneself. Embracing moments of solitude gives you the chance to reflect on your experiences, thoughts, and feelings. It’s an opportunity for self-discovery and personal growth.

Take some time for yourself each day. Enjoy a quiet cup of tea. Reflect on your thoughts. Or simply sit in silence. You’d be surprised at how these moments can contribute to your happiness as you grow older.

10) Laugh Often

I’ve always believed in the age-old saying – laughter is the best medicine. And trust me, as I’ve grown older, I’ve found this to be truer than ever.

Laughter is a powerful antidote to stress, pain, and conflict. It can lighten your burdens, inspire hope, and connect you with others. Moreover, it keeps you grounded and promotes a positive, optimistic outlook.

Renowned psychologist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl said, “I never would have made it if I could not have laughed. It lifted me momentarily out of this horrible situation, just enough to make it livable.”

Incorporating humor and laughter into your daily life can significantly boost your mood and overall well-being. So whether it’s through a funny movie, jokes with friends, or even laughing at your own mistakes – make sure to laugh often.

As you age, you’ll find that not taking life too seriously and finding reasons to laugh can make your journey much more enjoyable and happier.

Conclusion

Growing older may bring its own set of challenges, but it also provides opportunities for increased happiness and fulfillment. By incorporating these eight daily habits into your life, you can age with grace and enjoy a more contented, peaceful, and happy life.

Remember, it’s not about making drastic changes overnight. Start small. Choose one or two habits to focus on, and gradually add more as you become comfortable. The key is consistency. With time and practice, these habits can become a natural part of your daily routine.

If you’re interested in diving deeper into the wisdom of Buddhism and mindfulness, I invite you to check out my book Hidden Secrets of Buddhism: How To Live With Maximum Impact and Minimum Ego. It’s packed with practical insights and tips to help you live a more mindful and fulfilling life.

Remember, getting older doesn’t mean your happiness has to diminish. In fact, with the right habits, it may even increase. Here’s to growing older and happier!

 

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