How You Will Be Remembered Depends On How You Live Today. So, Too, Does Your Happiness As You Get Older.

In Social Security and Retirement On
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For instance, last year, I was invited to participate as a panelist at a journalism conference; three years earlier, I had moderated the major plenary of that year’s conference, an honor previously awarded to some of my profession’s biggest names. Now I was a mere panelist?

I’m saddened to admit how much that perceived demotion bothered me. It did, however, prompt an internal debate about what matters most at this stage of my life. I’d recently heard a lecture by writer and thinker Arthur C. Brooks, where he talked about transitioning from résumé virtues to eulogy virtues. Brooks asked himself if there were anything he could do, “starting now, to give myself a shot at avoiding misery — and maybe even achieve happiness — when the music inevitably stops?”

Studies show that in many countries, including the United States, contentment grows from our 50s until about 70. “After 70,” Brooks wrote in an essay, “some people stay steady in happiness [while] others get happier until death. Others — men in particular — see their happiness plummet.”

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