It’s an age-old question that everyone tries to answer over the course of their lives: What makes you happy? Most of us can come up with a decent answer to this question, but new research shows that your answer depends on the stage of life you’re in.

A report summarizing the results of eight studies on happiness is scheduled to be published this year in the Journal of Consumer Research. It states that younger people report higher levels of happiness from extraordinary experiences, those that serve as milestones in our lives and help define our personal identities. Older people, on the other hand, experience ordinary, everyday events as more central to their identities and more important when it comes to happiness.

In short, younger people gain more happiness from excitement, and older people from peace and calm.

Important in explaining these results is people’s perception of the future. Young people with their whole lives ahead of them are naturally drawn to new experiences and often feel bored and dissatisfied with their ordinary lives. Older people are aware that their time is limited, and so their everyday lives become more meaningful than seeking out new experiences.

With this report in mind, what can you do to increase the happiness of your older loved ones? Instead of always trying to get them to go someplace or do something different, put your focus more on the tried-and-true. In addition, the report emphasizes that people of all ages get the most pleasure out of experiences rather than material things, and that these experiences are best when shared with other people. Your loved ones’ recipe for happiness may be no more complex than simply spending time with their family at home, doing the things you’ve always enjoyed doing together. For the young as well as the old, these are the happy experiences that stick with us.


If you think your loved ones could use extra help going about their everyday lives in comfort, call Select Home Care at (877) 230-3160. We provide in home care services to the elderly and disabled.