9 unusual habits of people who become happier as they get older

Getting older is often associated with a decline in happiness, but this isn’t the case for everyone.

Some people seem to grow happier as they age, and it’s not by accident. They’ve developed unusual habits that defy societal norms and expectations about aging.

These habits are not about chasing fleeting moments of pleasure. Instead, they involve cultivating a deep sense of fulfillment, resilience, and joy that lasts well into our later years.

So what are these habits that lead to increased happiness in older age? Let’s dive in and explore.

1) Embracing change

Change is a constant in life, yet many of us resist it or fear it. This resistance can lead to stress and unhappiness, especially as we age and the pace of change seems to accelerate.

However, those who grow happier as they get older often have an unusual habit: they embrace change. Instead of seeing it as a threat, they view it as an opportunity for growth and learning.

These individuals understand that change is inevitable and that resisting it only leads to suffering. They’ve learned to adapt, evolve and find joy in the unexpected. They see every new phase of life not as a loss of the past, but as a chance to experience something new and enriching.

Adopting this mindset doesn’t mean they don’t feel the discomfort that often accompanies change. But instead of letting this discomfort paralyze them, they use it as a catalyst for personal growth and transformation.

2) Cultivating gratitude

Gratitude is a powerful practice that can greatly enhance our wellbeing, but it’s not always a habit we naturally adopt. However, people who become happier as they age often make a conscious effort to cultivate gratitude in their daily lives.

This isn’t about ignoring life’s challenges or glossing over pain. It’s about recognizing the good in our lives and appreciating what we have, rather than focusing on what we lack. It’s about shifting our perspective from scarcity to abundance.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve found that intentionally practicing gratitude has deepened my sense of contentment and joy. Even on tough days, taking a moment to reflect on the things I’m grateful for helps to shift my focus and lift my spirits.

Renowned psychologist Dr. Robert Emmons, a leading expert in the study of gratitude, beautifully encapsulates this idea: “Gratitude has the power to heal, to energize, and to change lives.”

3) Pursuing purpose over happiness

In our youth, we often chase after happiness, thinking it’s the ultimate goal. But as we get older, we start to understand that happiness is not a destination, it’s a byproduct of living a meaningful life.

People who become happier as they age often shift their focus from seeking happiness to pursuing purpose. They engage in activities that align with their values and contribute to something larger than themselves. This sense of purpose provides them with a deep sense of fulfillment and contentment that far surpasses temporary happiness.

In my own experience, I’ve found that the pursuit of purpose over happiness has led to greater satisfaction in life. It has given me a sense of direction and made my journey more fulfilling.

To help you understand this concept better, I invite you to watch my video where I delve deeper into “the illusion of happiness” and why chasing it can make us miserable. I challenge the common belief that pursuing happiness is the key to a fulfilling life, and instead argue that true contentment comes from within – by embracing life’s challenges, fostering meaningful relationships, and staying true to oneself.

If you find this video insightful and want to explore more topics about living a life with more purpose and freedom, feel free to join me and over 20,000 others on YouTube by clicking here.

4) Embracing obstacles as opportunities

Life is full of obstacles. They can appear in any form, at any time, and often when we least expect them. Many people view these obstacles as barriers to happiness, causing stress and frustration. But those who find themselves growing happier as they age tend to see things differently.

These individuals have developed the unusual habit of embracing obstacles as opportunities. Instead of viewing challenges as setbacks, they see them as opportunities for growth and learning. They understand that it’s through overcoming obstacles that we can truly test our resilience and discover our potential.

This isn’t about denying the pain or frustration that comes with facing challenges. It’s raw and honest acknowledgement that life is tough. Yet, amid this toughness, there lies the chance to learn, to grow, and to emerge stronger.

When we stop seeing obstacles as threats and start viewing them as opportunities for personal growth, we open ourselves up to a whole new dimension of happiness and fulfillment – one that is enriched by our experiences, rather than diminished by them.

5) Taking responsibility for personal happiness

As we age, we often come to realize that our happiness is not something that can be found externally. Neither wealth, status, nor the approval of others can truly make us happy. It’s a harsh truth, but also a liberating one.

People who grow happier as they age often take full responsibility for their own happiness. They understand that blaming external circumstances or other people for their unhappiness only leads to a cycle of dissatisfaction and discontent.

Instead, they focus on the things they can control – their attitudes, actions, and responses. They realize that it’s their perception and reaction to life’s events, not the events themselves, that determine their level of happiness.

This might sound like a heavy burden to bear. After all, it means accepting that we are responsible for our own emotional well-being. But in truth, it is incredibly empowering. When we take responsibility for our happiness, we take back control over our lives.

In one of my videos, I discuss the “imposter syndrome” and how embracing this feeling can be a catalyst for authentic growth and empowerment. The idea is similar: accept what you feel, own it, and use it as fuel for growth.

Taking responsibility for our happiness – that’s where true empowerment lies. It’s raw, it’s honest, and it’s one of the most liberating choices we can make in our lives.

6) Accepting imperfection

In a world that often glorifies perfection, accepting our imperfections can seem counterproductive. We’re constantly bombarded with messages about self-improvement, personal growth, and becoming the best versions of ourselves.

But individuals who become happier as they age often adopt an unusual habit: they accept their imperfections. They understand that being human means being imperfect. They know that every person has flaws and weaknesses, and that these imperfections are not shortcomings to be ashamed of, but rather facets of our unique individuality.

By accepting their imperfections, these individuals free themselves from the exhausting race of perfectionism. They understand that it’s okay to have weaknesses and to make mistakes. Instead of focusing on eliminating their flaws, they focus on recognizing them, learning from them, and using them as stepping stones for personal growth.

Accepting our imperfections doesn’t mean we stop striving for growth or improvement. It simply means we recognize that we are perfectly imperfect, just as we are. And in that acceptance comes a profound peace and contentment.

7) Prioritizing authentic relationships

In the digital age, we can easily get caught up in the quantity of our social connections. However, people who grow happier as they age often prioritize the quality of their relationships over the quantity.

They invest time and energy into building authentic relationships based on mutual respect, empathy, and cooperation. They value deep conversations over small talk and genuine connections over shallow acquaintances.

These individuals understand that supportive communities and meaningful relationships are essential for our wellbeing. It’s through these connections that we find the courage to pursue our dreams, the resilience to overcome challenges, and the joy of shared experiences.

By prioritizing authentic relationships, they create a social network that provides support, encouragement, and love – all key ingredients for long-term happiness.

8) Investing in personal growth

Aging is often associated with physical decline and a slowing down of life. But those who become happier as they age see it differently. They see aging as an opportunity for continuous personal growth.

These individuals understand that learning doesn’t stop when you leave school or retire from work. They stay curious, open-minded, and willing to learn new things. Whether it’s picking up a new hobby, learning a new language, or exploring new ideas, they embrace the opportunity to grow.

Investing in personal growth keeps their minds sharp, their spirits high, and their lives filled with purpose. It contributes to their happiness by keeping them engaged, challenged, and fulfilled.

9) Practicing self-compassion

Self-compassion is often overlooked in our self-improvement-oriented society. But those who grow happier as they age have learned the importance of being kind to themselves.

Instead of beating themselves up over mistakes or flaws, they practice self-compassion. They treat themselves with the same kindness and understanding they would offer a friend.

Practicing self-compassion allows them to navigate life’s ups and downs with grace and resilience. It helps them to maintain a positive self-image, reduce stress, and foster emotional wellbeing.

Self-compassion is a powerful tool in promoting happiness. As we age, it becomes even more important to be our own best friend.

The power of choice

As we navigate the journey of life, it’s important to remember that our happiness is not a byproduct of external circumstances, but a conscious choice we make every day.

This realization can be profound. It signifies that our happiness is not in the hands of others or dictated by societal expectations. It’s in our own hands, shaped by our attitudes, actions, and responses.

The unusual habits of people who grow happier as they age remind us that happiness is a journey of continual growth, acceptance, and conscious decision-making. It’s about embracing change, cultivating gratitude, taking ownership of our happiness, accepting our imperfections, prioritizing authentic relationships, investing in personal growth, and practicing self-compassion.

As I’ve explored in my YouTube videos, living a life with more freedom and authenticity often involves challenging mainstream narratives and embracing a different way of being.

So I invite you to consider this: What choices can you make today that will contribute to your happiness as you age? And if you want to join me and over 20,000 others on this journey towards more purposeful living, consider subscribing to my YouTube channel by clicking here.

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Justin Brown

Justin Brown is an entrepreneur and thought leader in personal development and digital media, with a foundation in education from The London School of Economics and The Australian National University. As the co-founder of Ideapod, The Vessel, and a director at Brown Brothers Media, Justin has spearheaded platforms that significantly contribute to personal and collective growth. His deep insights are shared on his YouTube channel, JustinBrownVids, offering a rich blend of guidance on living a meaningful and purposeful life.

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