Old people are generally happier than young people. Why is that so? When you hear scientists explain it, there's a forehead slapping "Aw, I knew that," affect. Laura Carstensen does explain it right here (transcript). Excerpt:
As we age, our time horizons grow shorter and our goals change. When we recognize that we don't have all the time in the world, we see our priorities most clearly. We take less notice of trivial matters. We savor life. We're more appreciative, more open to reconciliation. We invest in more emotionally important parts of life, and life gets better, so we're happier day-to-day. But that same shift in perspective leads us to have less tolerance than ever for injustice.
Less tolerance for injustice wouldn't seem to be an element of happiness unless they had the capability to right that injustice. Maybe that's why old timers vote in such high percentages. Let's continue:
By 2015, there will be more people in the United States over the age of 60 than under 15. What will happen to societies that are top-heavy with older people? The numbers won't determine the outcome. Culture will. If we invest in science and technology and find solutions for the real problems that older people face and we capitalize on the very real strengths of older people, then added years of life can dramatically improve quality of life at all ages. Societies with millions of talented, emotionally stable citizens who are healthier and better educated than any generations before them, armed with knowledge about the practical matters of life and motivated to solve the big issues can be better societies than we have ever known.
For some reason I'm reminded of an old joke. When you're young, old people just won't stop talking. When you're old, young people just won't listen.