Psychology Week: measure your happiness

Nothing beats a strong social network and human contact, so how do you get it?

happy mature couples socially connected

While the internet and technology may help to keep us connected, the reality is that nothing beats a strong social network and human contact.

The Australian Psychological Society’s Compass for life survey, compiled the responses for 1000 adults and 518 adolescents and found that actual human connections ranked top on the wellbeing scale. Those who were connected to their family, socialised with colleagues and remained active within their community has higher wellbeing scores than those who were excluded.

While connecting through social media gives people access to news and views, those with a higher usage reported feeling more lonely and subject to negative emotions.

The good news for those over 65 is that, in general they have higher levels of wellbeing and don't feel as lonely as the remainder of the population.

What is interesting is that although money and wealth are often in the top three things that come to mind when asked what makes a good life, household income has no bearing on wellbeing.

Clinical Psychologist Professor Lyn Littlefield had this to say about the importance of older Australians attitude to remaining connected:

Why do you think that Australians over 65 have significantly higher levels of wellbeing and lower levels of loneliness?

Many Australians over 65 are at the point of reflecting on their lives and have very different expectations of their future than they did when young. They are often more accepting of their lives, less ambitious and don't have as high expectations... i.e.they are more settled and comfortable with where they are at and so feel a greater sense of well- being.

They also are often retired and have more time to do what they want. They frequently spend more time with friends and family and on activities in the community, both of which are related to well- being. These connections and engagement are often stronger in older Australians. They also can be more selective about what they engage in and can choose activities that give them pleasure and sometimes open up learning in areas they are interested - and finally they are more likely to value 'the moment' and focus on enjoying the current time.

 

Is there something that can be learned from the seeming balance that older Australians have?

Much can be learned from older adults - it is largely about getting a better balance in life and valuing relationships and putting time and effort into them. It's also about being realistic about own's own life and possibilities for the future, whilst still valuing achievements and accomplishments and finding meaning in what one does and one's life.

In Psychology Week, running from 6 to 12 November, all Australians are being urged to visit Compassforlife.org.au to measure and improve their wellbeing.





    COMMENTS

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    Rosret
    8th Nov 2016
    10:58am
    I am not sure where they get these statistics from. The elderly are the loneliest of all. So long as you have close family, a partner, money for entertainment and fancy clothes, the ability to drive, community involvement and your health then you are fine. However, its really easy for the elderly to become isolated - especially when the "giver" can no longer give due to health or financial constrictions. NB I am not talking about me but I see and hear it all time. They are sick of doing Suduko and watching boring TV shows!
    Anonymous
    8th Nov 2016
    11:36am
    Oh, how right you are! Your physical faculties and financial fitness are great happiness helpers in themselves and without them (especially our healthy wellbeing) you are truly pushing up against the downhill slide. Good luck.
    Bella54
    8th Nov 2016
    11:38am
    Wherever you are in the aging process, you can contribute. I visit as a volunteer,an elderly lady in the retirement home who is not mobile so doesn't get out much. Relationship has been formed and is meaningful for us both. I bring the outside world to her and she brings life experiences, memories and friendship. I feel very blessed.
    A phone call too can make all the difference. Something even those who are housebound and short of finances can do. Just this simple gesture can make someone's day and let them know they are being thought and cared about.


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