But do we have to wait until our golden years to attain the wisdom for well-being? Nope.
Most people can benefit from a number of tactics to boost their satisfaction in life. Research has shown that performing positive acts such as writing letters of gratitude, counting one's blessings, performing acts of kindness, and meditating produce positive emotions, according to Sonja Lyubomirsky, a psychology professor at the University of California—Riverside and author of The How of Happiness. She also suggests using variety to extend one's satisfaction with a practice, event, or even an object as we continually adapt to the various upgrades in our lives. So if you decide, for example, to make a positive change such as walking to work, then it's best to take different routes over time to sustain your satisfaction, she explains.
Carstensen suggests trying to live in the moment. When faced with life's daily hassles, find perspective by asking yourself this ultimate question, she says: "Is this going to matter on the last day of your life?"
And meanwhile, know that, while every stage of life has its ups and downs, there is plenty to look forward to as we grow old. "There's something about being at an age where you know what you've been dealt in life—and it's OK—and you've found your love, and you've not only found your love, but you have your children and grandchildren," Carstensen says. And this brew of satisfaction is "richer and deeper and more complex than the emotions that a 12-year-old or a 20-year-old can ever imagine."
"The paradox of aging is that realizing you don't have all the time left in the world doesn't make you sad and miserable; it makes you live in the moment and be appreciative of the day," Carstensen says. "That's the secret to happiness," she adds, especially as we age.