Songs like the 1960s favorite from The Turtles, “Happy Together,” and the 2013 chart-buster from Pharrell Williams, “Happy,” raise our spirits and reaffirm how important happiness is. And scientists agree: Research shows gleeful joy and quiet pleasure dispel stress, bolster cardio health and help you make healthier lifestyle choices.
But ironically, pursuing happiness doesn’t make you happier. It’s better to aim for experiences or accomplishments that develop inner resources you need for living well. That’s how happiness happens.
Unfortunately, a recent study says happiness is on the decline for folks over 30. Researchers analyzed data gathered from 1972-2014 on 1.3 million Americans ages 13-96. They found that the old saying that you get happier as you get older stopped being true around 2010!
Why? Perhaps the fast and fleeting relationships of the digital age (Snapchat!) seem exciting to younger folks, but deprive mature people of the community and stability they desire. Or maybe expectations in this era of “Why aren’t YOU a dot.com millionaire by now?” are so high that they can’t be met, which sinks in after age 30.
Whatever the cause, it’s time to take steps to get happier. Walking 10,000 steps a day for five days a week boosts self-confidence, dispels stress and fuels physical and emotional strength. So can eliminating the Five Food Felons, as can doing work you enjoy and spending time with friends and family. So write a list of activities, experiences, social or work interactions that will provide you with a sense of satisfaction. There’s your bouquet list! Now let happiness bloom.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.