Good news for those of us who are getting older: we’re also becoming happier. Scientists know that people in third-world countries are happier than those in the West. Now they’ve discovered that old people are happier than young people, even though BOTH groups think that young people are the happiest.

Scientists say that older people forget how happy (or unhappy) they were when they were young, while young people simply assume that they won’t be very happy when they’re old. Behavioral researcher Heather Lacey says, “Overall, people got it wrong, believing that most people become less happy as they age, when in fact this study and others have shown that people tend to become happier over time. Not only do younger people believe that older people are less happy, but older people believe they and others must have been happier ‘back then.’ Neither belief is accurate.”

Researcher Peter Ubel has even found that ill people are often surprisingly happy, sometimes just as happy as healthy people. He says, “People often believe that happiness is a matter of circumstance, that if something good happens, they will experience long-lasting happiness, or if something bad happens, they will experience long-term misery. But instead, people’s happiness results more from their underlying emotional resources?resources that appear to grow with age. People get better at managing life’s ups and downs, and the result is that as they age, they become happier?even though their objective circumstances, such as their health, decline.”

Lacey adds this: “It’s not that people overestimate their happiness, but rather that they learn how to value life from adversities like being sick. What the sick learn from being sick, the rest of us come to over time.”

All this is especially good news if, like Whitley, you’re having a birthday!

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