As we get older, we either get BETTER or get BITTER.
Of course, we all want to become better—to be a joyful aunty who travels the world or a cool grandpa who’s the life of the party.
I got curious about all this and examined the elderly people around me.
And I realize that it’s quite simple, really—the “better” ones have developed certain personality traits.
Here are 13 distinctive character traits that I suspect make them happier and more fulfilled than others.
1) They don’t sweat the small stuff
And they know that almost everything is just small stuff.
Unlike grumpy people who treat every problem like it could lead to World War III, they’d rather solve things as calmly as possible.
They probably weren’t like this—in fact, they could be a nervous wreck back in the day.
But life has taught them that most of the time, problems are easily solved if one remains calm.
And the ones that can’t be solved? Well…no amount of freaking out could change the outcome anyways.
2) They’ve mastered the art of being joyful
Some people become more and more joyless as they age.
It takes so little for them to be pissed off, and it takes a lot for them to be happy.
People who make the most of their retirement years would rather maximize pleasure and minimize pain.
And they do that by focusing on the good…and of course, by being more tolerant of the bad.
It doesn’t matter if they’re stuck in traffic, they’ll find a way to have fun!
And if their flight gets canceled, they’ll be frustrated, for sure. But they will laugh and say “Well, at least we have more time to sleep!”
They’ve developed this kind of sunny attitude over the years…and it makes their retirement years more pleasurable.
3) They’ve maintained their childlike curiosity
Some people are children only once.
The moment they enter adulthood, they get so serious with life that they never act or think or dream like children again.
They stopped playing games and started to focus on grown up things—career, reputation, creating a family…all those “big” things!
Those who make the most of their retirement years remain childlike.
They still think the world is still full of wonder, they believe that anything is still possible if they try.
In fact, some of them still believe in magic!
4) They nurture their relationships
Friendships are essential to a happy life—especially when we get older.
According to an 85-year-old study conducted by Harvard, people with strong relationships live longer and are happier.
The reason many people stop making friends is that as we get older, we realize that people come and go…that relationships are fleeting.
But people who make the most of their retirement years have accepted this as a fact of life. And they’re fine with it.
They’ve told themselves that even if relationships are fleeting, they’re still worth having.
When they get invited by their friends for a BBQ, they show up. They won’t invent an excuse so they can watch another episode of a show they don’t really like.
The ones who are bitter think relationships are impractical and a total waste of time. Interestingly, this might be the very reason why they’re bitter in the first place.
5) They live in the present
They believe that the past should stay in the past…unless they’re happy memories, of course.
They only look back on the good times, or to learn an important lesson, or to see how far they’ve come.
And while they do get excited about the future, they don’t obsess over it.
They don’t go “I’ll be happy once I achieve my goals” or “I’ll be proud of myself once I build a second house…which will likely happen in ten years.”
They’re all about what’s happening right now.
They know that the best way to live life is by seizing each moment…and that’s exactly the reason why they’re more joyful than others.
6) They’re extra passionate and enthusiastic
They’re interested in a lot of things and they pursue them now that they finally have time.
It could be simple things like building a cute home for their cats or a big one like starting a chess club.
They’re always inventing, creating, innovating, collaborating…
You can see the excitement in their eyes everytime they talk about the things they’re working on.
They keep themselves busy instead of just waiting for Death to take them.
7) They want to be an inspiration to others
Some older folks stop caring about how they come across to others.
In fact, many of them stop caring about other people entirely once they reach a certain age.
They go “Bah, I don’t give a damn!” or “I don’t want to deal with any of that anymore. I just want to live!”
But those who make the most of their retirement years are those who believe their existence matters—that they have a role in other people’s lives, no matter how small.
And what’s interesting is that by trying to live a good life for others, they actually live a good life for themselves.
8) They’re extra generous
It’s not hard to see why some people get more bitter and self-centered as they get older.
They may be suffering from back pain and five other illnesses.
They may be demoralized at work because younger colleagues are outshining them.
They might have recently lost their partner, and their children live miles away.
All of these challenges lead them to prioritize themselves. They feel like the only person who can help them is themselves.
And sadly, this has turned some of them into self-centered people—even selfish.
Those who make the most of their retirement years CHOOSE to remain generous. And it’s not because they’re more blessed, it’s because they realized that giving and sharing makes life more fulfilling.
And what’s awesome is that, most of the time, people help them in return.
9) They’re open-minded
According to studies, older people tend to be more conservative and close-minded. And that’s why many of them are stereotyped as the “grumpy old hag” who complains a lot.
Those who blossom in their old age are the ones who become more open-minded as they age.
They try new things, they question their way of life, they acknowledge that they could be wrong even if they have more experience in life.
And not only does this make them more pleasant to be around, this also keeps them young.
10) They’re hungry for new experiences
Learning how to dance samba?
Eating exotic food?
They’re always down for anything!
Of course they won’t go bungee jumping if they have health issues (and if they’re really not into it), but they’re always trying new things.
Life could get routinary once we reach a certain age, and that’s why people who make the most of their retirement years try to combat it by doing things they haven’t done before.
11) They’re introspective
Socrates said “An unexamined life is not worth living.”
And so they use their last remaining decades to do some self-reflection on their life—from when they’re still cute little infants to now that they’re old and gray.
They try to figure out what their existence (and suffering) is all about.
They try to examine who they really are.
They try to assess their relationships, their failures, and their joys.
And it’s no surprise that many of them have developed inner wisdom because of this.
12) They’re in touch with their inner self
They nurture their most important relationship. And that relationship is none other than the one they have with themself.
All their life, they’ve prioritized other people—their parents, their partners, their kids.
And while they see nothing wrong with that, they’ve finally reached the age where it’s time for them to focus on themself.
In the process, they’ve become their own best friend!
You can sense when someone is in touch with themself. They have an aura of self-assuredness that others simply don’t have.
13) They’re aligned to their life purpose
Finding one’s life purpose is not easy. It’s always changing and evolving…but we can at least try.
The ones who make the most of their retirement years focus on this…on finding their life purpose.
They believe that the older we are, the more we know ourselves.
And so, the retirement years are the best years to see ourselves and examine our life purpose more clearly.
And once they figure out their purpose, they won’t waste any more time. They’ll walk in that direction until their twilight years.
People who make the most of their retirement years are not the richest, healthiest, and most successful.
They’re the ones who’ve developed a deeper understanding of themselves and of life.
With their understanding, they’ve developed certain traits that make every single second of their retirement years worth living.
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