Discover Why Elderly Ones Can Be Positive and Happy

Have you ever looked at an elderly person confined to a wheelchair and think, “How does she do it? She seems so happy. I would go mad in her place!” What is their secret to remaining positive despite the hardships and challenges that life brings? There’s a beautiful article in the NYTimes that might give you some answers and a new perspective on your own life.

The author, John Leland, has been following six elderly people since 2015 and now shares some of the insights he’s gleaned…

  • You can have it all if what you want is within your reach.
  • Focus on things you can still do and find rewarding.
  • Try not to think about bad things.
  • Be lively. You can’t be an old stick in the mud.
  • Form close friendships with the people who surround you, even if it’s in a nursing home.
  • Work hard at keeping up your mood.
  • Strive to live a peaceful and contented life.
  • Talk problems out, don’t argue.
  • See yourself as a fighter.
  • Don’t give in to fear, because it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.

He adds, “Gerontologists call this the paradox of old age: that as people’s minds and bodies decline, instead of feeling worse about their lives, they feel better.” It seems counterintuitive, doesn’t it?

Why can elderly people be happy despite their circumstances? Further research sheds light on this question.

One such research project was conducted by Stanford psychologist, Laura Carstensen, who studied brain behavior relative to positive and negative imagery. She found that “older people place high value on goals related to well-being and, all things being equal, cognitive processing operates under the influence of such goals.” She discovered that the amygdala of young people fire at seeing both types of imagery. While the amygdala of the elderly fired only for the positive images. She hypothesizes that the elderly train their prefrontal cortex to inhibit the amygdala in the presence of negative stimuli. In essence, they’ve rewired their brains to ignore the negative and delight in the positive.

If you’re struggling with negativity and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. If you’re young you don’t have to wait until you’re older. I can help you discover practical ways to switch your brain on to positivity. I also offer online therapy if that works best for your busy schedule.

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