It is rare to find someone who is much older that is simply miserable in their lives. Unless that person is stricken with a painful illness, the Economist Magazine article I read showed a U-curve in happiness, where you find increasing levels of joy as you get into old age. You have become more mellow and clam with time, and mostly and most importantly, wiser. You come to accept and allow your life to be as “it is”, rather than grasping and clutching onto things you don’t have. As Thoreau once wrote, “A person is as rich as what he can afford to leave alone” It is like a caterpillar saying to the butterfly, “You’ll never get me up in one of those.” Like the caterpillar, sooner or later, you are going to learn to fly.
It may take a while to align your expectations with reality, but that time will come, and you can feel rested and happy that you will eventually find peace in your life. The statistics are all behind you and support that notion as well. As a person reaches their sixties, their happiness and well being reach the highest level.
For example, in one experiment, participants were asked to respond to angry insults by actors. The young people took those insults personally and responded in anger. However, the older age group on average shrugged it aside, and said things like “Maybe the other guy was having a bad day and that is why he treated me that way”. The older participants also were found not to hold grudges and stay angry (in terms of duration) as their younger counterparts.
The U-Curve also found that the very young responded similar to the elderly. The young, still naïve and innocent, and not fixated on what Society is about to teach them to be, were still happy and calm. Once an average person reached their twenties and thirties, and their expectations did not align with reality, and thus were liable to depression.
By the time they are in their forties, the rate of discontent and depression were the highest, according to “The Economist” study. At that time, they were at the peak of their working career, and their discontent was at its highest.