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Happiness May Come With Age, Study Says

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  • medit8ionsociety
    From the New York Times May 31, 2010 Happiness May Come With Age, Study Says By NICHOLAS BAKALAR It is inevitable. The muscles weaken. Hearing and vision fade.
    Message 1 of 3 , Jun 2 9:51 PM
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      From the New York Times May 31, 2010
      Happiness May Come With Age, Study Says
      By NICHOLAS BAKALAR

      It is inevitable. The muscles weaken. Hearing and
      vision fade. We get wrinkled and stooped. We can't
      run, or even walk, as fast as we used to. We have
      aches and pains in parts of our bodies we never
      even noticed before. We get old.

      It sounds miserable, but apparently it is not. A large
      Gallup poll has found that by almost any measure,
      people get happier as they get older, and researchers
      are not sure why.

      "It could be that there are environmental changes,"
      said Arthur A. Stone, the lead author of a new study
      based on the survey, "or it could be psychological
      changes about the way we view the world, or it
      could even be biological — for example brain chemistry
      or endocrine changes."

      The telephone survey, carried out in 2008, covered
      more than 340,000 people nationwide, ages 18 to 85,
      asking various questions about age and sex, current
      events, personal finances, health and other matters.

      The survey also asked about "global well-being" by
      having each person rank overall life satisfaction
      on a 10-point scale, an assessment many people may
      make from time to time, if not in a strictly formalized way.

      Finally, there were six yes-or-no questions: Did
      you experience the following feelings during a large
      part of the day yesterday: enjoyment, happiness,
      stress, worry, anger, sadness. The answers, the
      researchers say, reveal "hedonic well-being," a
      person's immediate experience of those psychological
      states, unencumbered by revised memories or subjective
      judgments that the query about general life satisfaction
      might have evoked.

      The results, published online May 17 in the Proceedings
      of the National Academy of Sciences, were good news
      for old people, and for those who are getting old.
      On the global measure, people start out at age 18
      feeling pretty good about themselves, and then,
      apparently, life begins to throw curve balls. They
      feel worse and worse until they hit 50. At that point,
      there is a sharp reversal, and people keep getting
      happier as they age. By the time they are 85, they
      are even more satisfied with themselves than they
      were at 18.

      In measuring immediate well-being — yesterday's
      emotional state — the researchers found that stress
      declines from age 22 onward, reaching its lowest
      point at 85. Worry stays fairly steady until 50,
      then sharply drops off. Anger decreases steadily
      from 18 on, and sadness rises to a peak at 50,
      declines to 73, then rises slightly again to 85.
      Enjoyment and happiness have similar curves: they
      both decrease gradually until we hit 50, rise steadily
      for the next 25 years, and then decline very slightly
      at the end, but they never again reach the low point
      of our early 50s.

      Other experts were impressed with the work. Andrew J. Oswald,
      a professor of psychology at Warwick Business School
      in England, who has published several studies on
      human happiness, called the findings important and,
      in some ways, heartening. "It's a very encouraging
      fact that we can expect to be happier in our early 80s
      than we were in our 20s," he said. "And it's not
      being driven predominantly by things that happen in
      life. It's something very deep and quite human that
      seems to be driving this."

      Dr. Stone, who is a professor of psychology at the
      State University of New York at Stony Brook, said
      that the findings raised questions that needed more
      study. "These results say there are distinctive
      patterns here," he said, "and it's worth some research
      effort to try to figure out what's going on. Why at
      age 50 does something seem to start to change?"

      The study was not designed to figure out which factors
      make people happy, and the poll's health questions
      were not specific enough to draw any conclusions
      about the effect of disease or disability on happiness
      in old age. But the researchers did look at four
      possibilities: the sex of the interviewee, whether
      the person had a partner, whether there were children
      at home and employment status. "These are four
      reasonable candidates," Dr. Stone said, "but they
      don't make much difference."

      For people under 50 who may sometimes feel gloomy,
      there may be consolation here. The view seems a
      bit bleak right now, but look at the bright side:
      you are getting old.
      ------------------------------------------------------------
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    • medit8ionsociety
      I ve so much enjoyed the recent posts that have dealt with the mind-body connection (and I am also including Sri Danji s ones as well), that when I read this
      Message 2 of 3 , Jun 3 6:24 AM
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        I've so much enjoyed the recent posts that have
        dealt with the mind-body connection (and I am
        also including Sri Danji's ones as well), that
        when I read this article I thought it may have
        significance relative to the practice of meditation
        and the mind-body-emotional growth that occurs
        over time if our life is seen as an ongoing process of
        evolution in consciousness. We spend so much time
        learning things that at first require us to be aware
        and practice, and then we eventually can do them so
        effectively and functionally that we become able to
        do them with virtually no attention at all. Think
        about how we learned to drive and how focused we
        were at first on paying attention to the road and
        what we were doing, and then became so good at it that
        we can and do daydream or text and the driving just
        happens. Then, after many years, as we age, we realize
        that we're not quite as sharp as we once were and we
        start focusing our attention more often while driving.
        This realization can be conscious or unconscious, but
        is common. Just as seniors realize they aren't as strong
        or agile and can't see or hear as well as they once did,
        they will compensate by avoiding behaviors that they
        once did without thinking. So, I surmise that from some
        age, perhaps 50 as the article points to, the accumulated
        meditations that have happened in life by "doing meditation"
        or have occurred spontaneously, we go through a similar
        process and evolve in consciousness in a way that, like
        meditation, brings us greater peace, happiness, and
        being in the moment awareness/attention.

        There is a saying that goes something like :
        "One moment of anger negates the benefits of 1000 hours
        of meditation." Perhaps there is an analogous
        one that could be stated as:
        "50 years of life has the potential to start to bring the
        equivalent of 1000 hours of the benefits of meditation".
        And for us that "do meditation", perhaps the greater
        happiness found in old age will happen sooner than later.

        Peace and blessings,
        Bob

        medit8ionsociety <no_reply@...> wrote:
        >
        > From the New York Times May 31, 2010
        > Happiness May Come With Age, Study Says
        > By NICHOLAS BAKALAR
        >
        > It is inevitable. The muscles weaken. Hearing and
        > vision fade. We get wrinkled and stooped. We can't
        > run, or even walk, as fast as we used to. We have
        > aches and pains in parts of our bodies we never
        > even noticed before. We get old.
        >
        > It sounds miserable, but apparently it is not. A large
        > Gallup poll has found that by almost any measure,
        > people get happier as they get older, and researchers
        > are not sure why.
        >
        > "It could be that there are environmental changes,"
        > said Arthur A. Stone, the lead author of a new study
        > based on the survey, "or it could be psychological
        > changes about the way we view the world, or it
        > could even be biological — for example brain chemistry
        > or endocrine changes."
        >
        > The telephone survey, carried out in 2008, covered
        > more than 340,000 people nationwide, ages 18 to 85,
        > asking various questions about age and sex, current
        > events, personal finances, health and other matters.
        >
        > The survey also asked about "global well-being" by
        > having each person rank overall life satisfaction
        > on a 10-point scale, an assessment many people may
        > make from time to time, if not in a strictly formalized way.
        >
        > Finally, there were six yes-or-no questions: Did
        > you experience the following feelings during a large
        > part of the day yesterday: enjoyment, happiness,
        > stress, worry, anger, sadness. The answers, the
        > researchers say, reveal "hedonic well-being," a
        > person's immediate experience of those psychological
        > states, unencumbered by revised memories or subjective
        > judgments that the query about general life satisfaction
        > might have evoked.
        >
        > The results, published online May 17 in the Proceedings
        > of the National Academy of Sciences, were good news
        > for old people, and for those who are getting old.
        > On the global measure, people start out at age 18
        > feeling pretty good about themselves, and then,
        > apparently, life begins to throw curve balls. They
        > feel worse and worse until they hit 50. At that point,
        > there is a sharp reversal, and people keep getting
        > happier as they age. By the time they are 85, they
        > are even more satisfied with themselves than they
        > were at 18.
        >
        > In measuring immediate well-being — yesterday's
        > emotional state — the researchers found that stress
        > declines from age 22 onward, reaching its lowest
        > point at 85. Worry stays fairly steady until 50,
        > then sharply drops off. Anger decreases steadily
        > from 18 on, and sadness rises to a peak at 50,
        > declines to 73, then rises slightly again to 85.
        > Enjoyment and happiness have similar curves: they
        > both decrease gradually until we hit 50, rise steadily
        > for the next 25 years, and then decline very slightly
        > at the end, but they never again reach the low point
        > of our early 50s.
        >
        > Other experts were impressed with the work. Andrew J. Oswald,
        > a professor of psychology at Warwick Business School
        > in England, who has published several studies on
        > human happiness, called the findings important and,
        > in some ways, heartening. "It's a very encouraging
        > fact that we can expect to be happier in our early 80s
        > than we were in our 20s," he said. "And it's not
        > being driven predominantly by things that happen in
        > life. It's something very deep and quite human that
        > seems to be driving this."
        >
        > Dr. Stone, who is a professor of psychology at the
        > State University of New York at Stony Brook, said
        > that the findings raised questions that needed more
        > study. "These results say there are distinctive
        > patterns here," he said, "and it's worth some research
        > effort to try to figure out what's going on. Why at
        > age 50 does something seem to start to change?"
        >
        > The study was not designed to figure out which factors
        > make people happy, and the poll's health questions
        > were not specific enough to draw any conclusions
        > about the effect of disease or disability on happiness
        > in old age. But the researchers did look at four
        > possibilities: the sex of the interviewee, whether
        > the person had a partner, whether there were children
        > at home and employment status. "These are four
        > reasonable candidates," Dr. Stone said, "but they
        > don't make much difference."
        >
        > For people under 50 who may sometimes feel gloomy,
        > there may be consolation here. The view seems a
        > bit bleak right now, but look at the bright side:
        > you are getting old.
        > ------------------------------------------------------------
        > FAIR USE NOTICE
        > This site contains copyrighted material the
        > use of which has not always been specifically
        > authorized by the copyright owner. We are
        > making such material available in our efforts
        > to advance understanding of environmental,
        > political, human rights, economic, democracy,
        > scientific, spiritual, and social justice issues,
        > etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use'
        > of any such copyrighted material as provided
        > for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law.
        > In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107,
        > the material on this site is distributed
        > without profit to those who have expressed a
        > prior interest in receiving the included information
        > for research and educational purposes. For more
        > information go to:
        > http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml.
        > If you wish to use copyrighted material from this
        > site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use',
        > you must obtain permission from the copyright owner
        >
      • dan330033
        ... Hi Bob - What you say rings true. True, for example of art, where a painter will practice endlessly to get to a point where art happens spontaneously
        Message 3 of 3 , Jun 3 4:35 PM
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          --- In meditationsocietyofamerica@yahoogroups.com, medit8ionsociety <no_reply@...> wrote:
          >
          > I've so much enjoyed the recent posts that have
          > dealt with the mind-body connection (and I am
          > also including Sri Danji's ones as well), that
          > when I read this article I thought it may have
          > significance relative to the practice of meditation
          > and the mind-body-emotional growth that occurs
          > over time if our life is seen as an ongoing process of
          > evolution in consciousness. We spend so much time
          > learning things that at first require us to be aware
          > and practice, and then we eventually can do them so
          > effectively and functionally that we become able to
          > do them with virtually no attention at all. Think
          > about how we learned to drive and how focused we
          > were at first on paying attention to the road and
          > what we were doing, and then became so good at it that
          > we can and do daydream or text and the driving just
          > happens. Then, after many years, as we age, we realize
          > that we're not quite as sharp as we once were and we
          > start focusing our attention more often while driving.
          > This realization can be conscious or unconscious, but
          > is common. Just as seniors realize they aren't as strong
          > or agile and can't see or hear as well as they once did,
          > they will compensate by avoiding behaviors that they
          > once did without thinking. So, I surmise that from some
          > age, perhaps 50 as the article points to, the accumulated
          > meditations that have happened in life by "doing meditation"
          > or have occurred spontaneously, we go through a similar
          > process and evolve in consciousness in a way that, like
          > meditation, brings us greater peace, happiness, and
          > being in the moment awareness/attention.

          Hi Bob -

          What you say rings true.

          True, for example of art, where a painter will practice endlessly to get to a point where art happens spontaneously through the artist. The practice and the art happening aren't two, but might seem divided in terms of a process occurring over time. True also of martial arts, writing, music, or many other skills/expressions.

          Also, it is possible that rather than a person deciding to do meditation to get a result, that meditation starts to happen spontaneously through that person's life.

          Unexpected, not premeditated, and not for a goal.

          I guess you could say that the goal is goal-less, that is, the "goal" simply is the "is" of being and the awareness that is being: this which is so, which is present or present-ness, and the meditation includes mind-body but isn't aimed at the mind-body (as to achieve some goal in it, through it, or for it).

          But just the being present, as it is, can't help but include the mind-body without division, and include mind-body-being aware.

          The body will relax, the mind will open, awareness is clear, bodily sensing is clear, breathing tends to slow and deepen - this is only natural to absorption in/as being.

          Nothing to do, nowhere to get to, nothing to have to plan (i.e., no plan such as "I will get to be more present later, as I get better at doing this.")

          And thus, not state dependent. Not a matter of getting to some state, or keeping some state going. Because always only "present," choicelessly so.

          Certainly practice can be an aspect of how this manifests over time, just as you've suggested, although it might turn out that the seeming intention to practice later turns out not to have involved an individual making choices for personal benefit, but just an expression of impersonal being.


          - D -
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