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What is happiness?

We all want to live a happy life, but do we really know how happiness feels?

'Nobody lives in a state of permanent happiness,' says Susan Quilliam. 'If you aspire to this, you’re always going to feel disappointed and dissatisfied. It’s more helpful to seek contentment and appreciate the moments when you do feel happy and uplifted.

'Spending time with friends or family, listening to music or admiring a beautiful view can all help to boost our mood, no matter what our personal circumstances.'

Reduced pressure

In fact, it’s likely to be this sense of contentment that increases as we age and the pressures that we faced earlier in our lives start to ease.

'By the time we reach retirement age, children have usually left home,' says Susan Quilliam. 'This usually means that we have more space, more money and more opportunity to recommit to our marriage/relationship.

'There’s also a sense of achievement and the satisfaction of a job well done when we’ve raised children to adulthood and set them on the road to independence.'

We’re also more likely to be free from the pressure of work as we get older. Although this can have downsides, particularly the lack of income or loss of daily companionship, many of us are able to appreciate the sense of freedom that retirement brings.

'A lot of us have planned for retirement, so we have some money to spend on ourselves - perhaps for the first time in 30 or 40 years,' says Susan. 'This often means that we can enjoy holidays or take up hobbies that we’ve never had the spare time or money to indulge in before.'

Becoming grandparents

Then, of course, many of us experience great joy when we become grandparents.

'Being a grandparent can be very rewarding,' says Susan. 'As we can give them back at the end of the day, we don’t have to worry about all the responsibilities and practicalities that come with being a parent, so we can focus on having fun.

'For this reason, it’s often a much sweeter relationship than we had with our own children. Also, as we’ve already raised our own children, we’re often more confident and relaxed than we were first time round.'

Further information


Our Information guides are short and easy to digest, giving a comprehensive overview of the relevant topic. Factsheets are longer with more detail, and are aimed at professionals.

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For more information: Call Age UK Advice: 0800 678 1174

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