Article by Fabafterfifty
With the working lives of baby boomers extended, there’s good news linking age, happiness and productivity! Could latest findings be to older workers advantage?
A recent article in the Economist, reported findings on various studies regarding ageing and happiness. It reported that we are most unhappy at the age of 46, hence happier after the age of 46.
I was intrigued by two elements of their findings:
1. We find happiness through acceptance as we get older, and
2. Happier people are also healthier and more productive
Making the most of our remaining years
The Economist article says “Maybe the sight of contemporaries keeling over infuses survivors with a determination to make the most of their remaining years. Maybe people come to accept their strengths and weaknesses, give up hoping to become chief executive or have a picture shown in the Royal Academy, and learn to be satisfied as assistant branch manager, with their watercolour on display at the church fete. “Being an old maid”, says one of the characters in a story by Edna Ferber, an (unmarried) American novelist, was “like death by drowning—a really delightful sensation when you ceased struggling.” Perhaps acceptance of ageing itself is a source of relief. “How pleasant is the day”, observed William James, an American philosopher, “when we give up striving to be young—or slender.” “
In respect to our health and productivity the article points out the following:
Cheerfulness can counteract Crumbliness
“John Weinman, professor of psychiatry at King’s College London, monitored the stress levels of a group of volunteers and then inflicted small wounds on them. The wounds of the least stressed healed twice as fast as those of the most stressed. At Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Sheldon Cohen infected people with cold and flu viruses. He found that happier types were less likely to catch the virus, and showed fewer symptoms of illness when they did. So although old people tend to be less healthy than younger ones, their cheerfulness may help counteract their crumbliness.
Happier people are more productive
Happier people are more productive, too. Mr Oswald and two colleagues, Eugenio Proto and Daniel Sgroi, cheered up a bunch of volunteers by showing them a funny film, then set them mental tests and compared their performance to groups that had seen a neutral film, or no film at all. The ones who had seen the funny film performed 12% better. So, the cheerfulness of the old should help counteract their loss of productivity through declining cognitive skills—a point worth remembering as the world works out how to deal with an ageing workforce.”
As we are now expected to work far longer than any of us anticipated before drawing our much deserved pensions, any research indicating that mature, happy employees are also productive employees is a great tool when looking to combat ageism in the workplace and change perceptions of older employees.
The Economist suggests that as the world gets greyer it also becomes brighter.
I, for one, won’t argue with that one!