Writing about aging, author Ursula Le Guin, herself 85 years of age, said, “I look at men and women my age and older, and their scalps and knuckles and spots and bulges ... for old people, beauty doesn’t come free with the hormones, the way it does for the young.”
While the beauty industry indoctrinates us with the rituals of cosmetic fillers and the magical promise of the right moisturizer, Le Guin posited, “It has to do with bones. It has to do with who the person is. More and more clearly it has to do with what shines through those gnarly faces and bodies.”
Is happiness shining through your gnarly face and body? An informal poll of my friends and acquaintances over 60 reiterates the findings presented in this EmpowHer article — an increased sense of well-being appears to be the natural byproduct of aging.
Similar to the dinnertime ritual when I ask my children, “Tell me your low point and high point of the day,” I asked the participants of my poll their current age and the ages at which they felt least and most happy.
Most people in my poll reported a happy youth, followed by a midlife downturn such as the illness or death of a parent, a divorce or financial uncertainty. There is a general consensus that life starts getting better after the fourth or fifth decade.
Here’s what participants reported as their unhappiest and happiest ages:
Joan K., retired teacher, 68.
Most unhappy: 60-65, when mother was ill.
Most happy: 20 and 66
Lois, retired Bible translator, 83.
Most unhappy: Empty nest for a year and a half.
Most happy: When the children were little and we were working on translation as a family and the last 20 years, from age 63 to 83.
Joan T., realtor, 62.
Most unhappy: 17-ish…
Most happy: 45 and after
Bill, retired professor, 85.
Most unhappy: 40s and 50s
Most happy: 80s
Maria, retired secretary, 82.
Most Unhappy: 21 on my mother’s death and on for years and years.
Most happy: 11 and my teens till 21.