Happy days are here again for grey nomad ‘oldies’

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Grey nomads of Australia are happy
Grey nomads are always happy ... but why?

It may not just be the freedom of life on the open road that makes grey nomads so happy … it could be their age, too!
Recent research has shown that people tend to be happy when they are young, then  happiness steadily declines until it hits rock bottom (38.6 years on average for women; 52.9 for men), and then our sense of happiness takes a turn for the better as we grow older. Apparently, this U-shape of happiness over our life span has been observed across the globe. It has been documented in more than 70 countries in surveys of more than 500,000 people in both developing and developed countries.
A leading British neuroscientist, Tali Sharot, says that since happiness is known to be related to longevity, perhaps the phenomenon is simply a matter of ‘the survival of the happiest’.
“Put simply, the happier live longer, while the pessimistic die prematurely, possibly because the latter experience more stress, which impacts on health negatively,” she said. “Therefore, the elderly individuals who remain for scientists to test should be happier than the average 30- or 40-year-olds.”
However, there is another possible explanation. The happiness U-curve could also be attributed to age-related changes in brain structures that influence happiness.
“One part of our brain which changes considerably both throughout the first two decades of our life, and as we move into old age, is the frontal lobe,” said Ms Sharot, who is also the author of The Science of Optimism. “Our frontal lobes mature well into our mid-20s and then start deteriorating as early as 45. This means that, as we develop, we slowly increase some frontal-lobe function, which we then lose later in life … one such function is our ability to learn from bad news.”
While Ms Sharot acknowledges that discounting bad news can get people into trouble – for example, causing us to smoke more and save less – it is also good for our mental health.
“Our research shows that the successful incorporation of bad news is related to depression,” she said. “Discounting bad news, as most of us do, presumably allows us to keep a rosy view of the future and, while this view is not necessarily realistic … it does keep us happy.”
Fuel prices going up! Van park fees soaring! Free campsites closing! Tsskkkk! Who cares?



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