Research has consistently indicated that people, on average, feel happier and more emotionally stable as they move into middle and old age. This seems surprising as this period of one’s life is when we become acutely aware that our bodies and minds are not as efficient as they were in our youth, and when we experience health-related problems and physical and psychological losses and crises.
However, it appears that in the midst of all our ageing-related challenges and problems we are nontheless more happy and emotionally stable according to an article in the journal Psychology and Aging (October 2010), as cited in New Therapist Magazine (January/February 2011)
Why is this?
As we get older we become more aware of our mortality and that time is running out. We therefore live in a more mindful and balanced way, enjoying the joys and pleasures of the everyday life, taking nothing for granted.
We become more and more aware that our time on this earth is limited and this leads to our becoming a lot more selective in what we choose to do with our time.
In my view, the take-home message from this research is : we could all live happier lives, irrespective of our age, if we make a point of living every day in a mindful, balanced way!
And that Positive Psychology and Mindfulness training should be considered integral to psychotherapy!
Are you serious about improving your psychological well-being and your happiness in 2011?Find out what Positive Psychology and Health Psychology have to offer!
When I ask clients who visit my psychology practice for the first time what their goals are, many of them say that they want to be happy!
We all know that happiness is often an elusive emotion and difficult if not impossible to achieve when we are not in a good space psychologically and we are experiencing anxiety and/or depression.
What is Positive Psychology?
The psychologist and researcher, Dr. Martin Seligman, is well-known for his work in Positive Psychology, see:
www. reflectivehappiness.com and www.authentichappiness.org.
Positive Psychology concentrates on personal strengths, positive emotions, happiness, optimism and hope and how we can work on these to improve our sense of well-being.
What is Health Psychology?
Psychologists and researchers who are interested in this field study the link between psychological and physical health. In our practice in Wynberg, Cape Town, we psychologists always emphasise with each client the importance of eating healthy, balanced meals, getting enough rest, relaxation and in exercising regularly if they are serious about improving their psychological well-being!
Over the next few posts I will be speaking about the mental-health benefits of changing one’s mind-set to embrace the principles and practices of both Positive Psychology and Health Psychology.
A recent study by Australian psychologist Richard Bryant of the University of New South Whales looked at the outcome of traumatic injuries on 1084 patients 3 months and 12 months after admission to hospital. He found that of the 33% of individuals who suffered from some form of psychological disorder following the trauma, the most common problem was depression (16%), followed by generalised anxiety disorder (11%), substance abuse (9.9%) and PTSD and agoraphobia (9.7% each). Other less frequently occuring problems were social phobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and panic disorder. Bryan’s research found that individuals who were suffered mild traumatic brain injury(TBI) were 50% more likely to develop symptoms of PTSD following a trauma than were individuals who did not experience a brain injury.
What is important to note from this research is, firstly, that only a third of individuals who were subject to traumatic injury went on to develop psychological problems. Second, psychologists and other mental health care workers should not concentrate on PTSD exclusively when they are treating survivors of trauma. Reference: American Journal of Psychiatry 167, no. 3 (March 2010): 312-20, cited in Psychotherapy Networker, Sept/Oct 2010.