Why Old Folks Smile

A renowned medical ethicist wrote that the perfect age to die would be 75. But a column in the New York Times suggests that by doing so, the ethicist might be missing out on his happiest years.

Surveys show that people in their 20s generally rate their well-being as high. Then happiness declines in middle age and bottoms out around age 50. But then happiness shoots up again, so that those in their 80s are the happiest.

This may be because of changes in the brain, the column suggests. Older people are more relaxed. They get more pleasure out of ordinary activities.

The columnist guessed that people get happier by accomplishing specific skills and get better at handling challenges.

The article also suggests that people are better at seeing things from differing perspectives. There is more empathy. More insight.

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