Living

There is a benefit to getting older—fewer negative thoughts

If you’re an adult feeling a little blue about getting one year older in 2012, there is good news. Those broody feelings that keep you up at night worrying about the state of your career, love life and abdominal muscles may slowly fade into distant memories.

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Masterfile

If you’re an adult feeling a little blue about getting one year older in 2012, there is good news. Those broody feelings that keep you up at night worrying about the state of your career, love life and abdominal muscles may slowly fade into distant memories. 

In fact, in a few more years you may be done with endlessly repetitive forms of negative thinking all together. The reason for the change from dark to light? Age, or so suggests a recent study (via Science Daily).

A study published last year in the Journal of Aging Research found that older adults report less incidences of broody, negative thinking than their far more glum, though enviably youthful, fellow adults. As a result, these devil-may-care 60-somethings possessed greater life satisfaction.

Researchers from the University of Luxembourg and the University of Wurzburg in Germany asked 300 men and women ranging in age from 15 to 87 to share how often they experienced negative thoughts and bouts of depression. They also asked the participants questions related to their overall sense of well-being.

The purpose of this cross-generational sharing was to determine what connection there was, if any, between negative thinking or rumination and a person’s age. For the purposes of the study, the researchers defined rumination as a mode of upset in which one focuses on the negative circumstances of a situation rather than taking action to correct or tackle the issue. Ruminating is a passive attitude to distress, and previous studies have shown it is a risk factor for depression.

The survey results indicated that those who reported the most instances of rumination were, not surprisingly, less satisfied with their lives. More interesting, perhaps, was the fact that those ruminators often fell into the younger age group. In contrast, those people age 63 and up had fewer negative thoughts and broody feelings. While senior depression still occurs, the study implies it may be the result of factors other than negative thinking patterns.

For young brooders, the study may offer both hope and a private challenge: hope for a rumination-free retirement in the future and the challenge to swap passive distress for positive action right now.