As the years roll by, does life get even better? Notice how the word ‘even’ got inserted? Is positiveness finally getting its way? There are two ways to look at life. One is to find the good, the other is to find the ‘even’ better. That is at least what the happiness gurus try and tell us. It is amazing how many books are written about ‘happiness’. It is even more amazing that they sell. I would be utterly ashamed or at least embarrassed to line up at the book counter, handing over my chosen book on ‘ How to find serious happiness’ at $32,95 written by a Dr, Kleinkind. I mean at nineteen years of age, it might be possible but at seventy- five, it seems ridiculously belated.
Objectively looking at the psychology of happiness, older people are often happier than the young, even though life of the old is inexorably getting towards the end. It is puzzling and it seems to contradict the idea that life is better and preferably when being young. After all, the world’s population is forever aiming to remain young. It might also be that the old are happy BECAUSE it is getting towards the end, having survived all the good and the bad and somehow made the best of it. Almost like the satisfaction of a bricklayer or a midwife having done their jobs well. We sit back and survey life’s foibles and triumphs. It might not have been perfect but it was Ok and at times even pretty good. In any case, it is not as if dying is so unusual. One might as well make the best of it. There are not many books about on how to avoid that last bit of life.
It seems a paradox that old people whose lifespan is always shorter, who often have medical problems, whose sexual life is diminishing, suffer memory loss, lose their driving ability, are often happier than the younger generation at the beginning of life.
The young are in robust health, have sex 7/24 like berserk rabbits, drive like maniacs, chop and change partners, can eat huge rump-steaks or gorge on mayonnaise laden bratwursts ad infinitum, yet are often queuing up on the Quack’s couch; “I am not happy, Doc, I am not happy.” “Yes, I understand, it is difficult. Have you tried getting away from yourself a bit more as I suggested, last time?” “That will be all for today. That will be $ 450.-. Thank you.” “Thank you.”
Perhaps the old can indulge their free time in hobbies, friendships, cook lovely meals while sipping a wine, travel around and watch people rushing by from a park bench. They can sit in the garden and watch the salvia grow. They might be free of the upbringing of children, do not have to nurture ambitions or having to achieve anything….. and find it a great relief!