Has your personal definition of happiness evolved as you’ve aged? In a thought-provoking article in the September issue of Health magazine, psychologist Heidi Grant Halvorson discussed the shift that happens to many people over time.
“Something happened to me on the way from 21 to 40: Happiness stopped being the high-energy, ecstatic experience of a wild night out with friends and morphed into the more peaceful, relaxing experience of an overworked parent who dreams of putting her feet up and enjoying a good book,” Halvorson wrote in the article “Calm Is the New Happy.”
“This happiness metamorphosis is actually quite common,” Halvorson continues. “As we get older or take on more (getting married, having kids, starting a career), we no longer focus primarily on the future — we have lots to protect and enjoy in the here and now.”
Of course, there’s definitely something to be said for a mature, moderate approach to life — but at what point does conservative behavior hold you back from enjoying all life has to offer? Health magazine ran the following quiz along with Halvorson’s article to help people take stock of where they are in life.
If you answered “1” or “2” to all of these questions, your cautious style may be getting in the way of finding new sources of pleasure. These everyday strategies will help you be a little more open to the new:
When faced with something novel or intimidating, try thinking about what you’d gain — the great things that could happen if you loosened up and took a chance. (For example, how could you benefit from a new Meetup group? Making new friends, feeling a sense of community, having a fun night out, learning about unfamiliar things you might enjoy?) Create a list of the potential perks. Reread it frequently.
Reflect on times when you took a chance and it paid off. What happened? How did it feel? (For example, when you went out on a limb to get a new job and you landed it, or when you struck up a conversation with a stranger who wound up becoming a lifelong friend.)