If you’re 50 or older, you may already be over the worst…
I WAS NEVER much good at maths but, there are a lot of numbers running through my head at the minute.
For example, I’ve just entered the last year of the famed 45-54 marketing category – the one after which advertisers lose interest in flogging stuff to you, because you can in no way be considered sexy any more.
Rather than worrying about being a year closer to falling off my perch, however, I’m actually looking forward to being forgotten – give or take the odd poke from Viking River Cruises or Stannah Stairlifts.
I’m also approaching a more personally important statistic because, if I hang around for about another 18 months, I’ll have passed the ages at which my Dad and my Mum died.
And, although their passing has caused me all manner of pain over the years, I’m now strangely euphoric that I’m about to be out on my own here.
Outliving them seems a success of a kind, as if we were in some sort of race and suddenly… I’m in the lead
God knows, it’s not like me to be so cheerful about anything – especially getting older.
But according to new research on how age affects happiness I may, quite literally, have turned a corner. Or at least a curve…
I’m talking about the recent study by former Bank of England economist David Blanchflower, who has pinpointed the age at which we are most unhappy as 47 years and two months.
According to data from 132 countries, 47/2 is at the bottom of a U-shaped happiness curve that also shows how we start to feel more content in our 50s – and better still after that.
So maybe that’s why I’m feeling a bit more spry? Statistics like these won’t reflect the experience of every person, but will often contain some broad trends and truths.
There are numbers within numbers that prove life as a 50-something and beyond doesn’t have to be so bad.”
Personally, I started my 50s still on antidepressants, but now I’ve been off them for (another number) three years and three months, and my mood in general is far better than before.
And, I must say, it makes a nice change to have some good news about being 50-something. To know that the worst days may be over and that I’m on the right side of the numbers for a change…
Of course, there’s one meaningful statistic that we can’t get away from: the fact that we’re getting older, and closer to death.
But there are also numbers within numbers that prove life as a 50-something and beyond doesn’t have to be so bad.
Take exercise: the stats on my Strava feed – about how fast and far I run – have been way down on my personal bests since I came back from knee trouble (itself a symptom of increasing age).
I am also lifting lighter weights than I was a year ago, and my 16-year-old son is starting to catch up on me in terms of the maximum weights that we can manage. Expressed as a graph, his performance is on an upward curve, while mine is on a steady decline.
Lift! Stretch! Run! Against the dying of the light!”
But that’s not really the point – as a friend of mine who lifts more seriously than I do was saying to me at the weekend. We may not be exercising as hard as we once did, he said, but we are still exercising.
And although we all know where we’re headed in the end, at least keeping up the effort means that our bones and the rest of our bodies stay stronger for longer and keep the fitness curve from heading downhill too fast.
And making the effort – keeping our stats as healthy as possible – should eventually help us rack up a high number in the only category that really matters… long (and happy) life.
So: lift! Stretch! Run! Against the dying of the light!