What Makes Pensioners So Happy?


Oct 09, 2014 by British Blog

How can a pensioner be truly happy? Well, if recent research were to be believed, they would do well to move to London, book a few holidays and take up a new hobby - ideally playing video games.

Over the past three or four years, a range of organisations, including the Office for National Statistics (ONS), have surveyed older people and asked them about happiness. The results make for interesting reading. According to the ONS, pensioners - along with teenagers - are the happiest people in the UK. Given that people of pensionable age make up around 20% of the country's population, that's a pleasingly large number of happy folk.

Stannah, a British manufacturer, spoke to a thousand people aged 65 and over, and discovered that the happiest of them (by some way) lived in London. The survey did not detail why Londoners were having such a great time, but it may be linked to having lots of other people close by, and plenty to do. This is borne out by a different study, published in the Daily Mail in 2013, in which pensioners cited spending time with grandchildren, socialising with friends and pursuing hobbies as the key to a happy retirement.


Playing games

Meanwhile a study from North Carolina State University in the US suggested that pensioners could gain happiness simply from staying indoors and playing video games: the researchers spoke to 140 people over 63 and found that the ones who habitually played video games were happier than those who didn't. Given that the ONS study mentioned above found that teenagers (who are often criticised for spending too much time playing video games) are, like pensioners, among the happiest people around, perhaps the teens are onto something and the entire nation should be spending less time at work and more time gaming.


Good advice

In a bid to find out more about ageing happily and living well, a study of 1,360 British people aged 60 and over, published in late 2013, asked the pensioners to share the piece of wisdom they would most like to pass on to later generations. Among the most popular were:

  • Manners cost nothing.
  • Treat others, as you would wish to be treated.
  • Treasure friendship.
  • Family comes first.
  • Save for a rainy day.

When asked for their key regrets, the subjects most frequently claimed that these were having spent too much time worrying about silly things, having married the wrong person and not having travelled enough.

Interestingly, there was broad agreement about what makes for a happy retirement, with finding a passion (perhaps a hobby or pursuit), reading and walking coming at or near the top of the list. Other suggestions included being open to trying new things, and travelling.


Life lessons

So it seems that everybody can learn a thing or two from today's pensioners, who are happier and more fulfilled than most. Keeping in touch with others, having an absorbing hobby and walking are all helpful in the pursuit of happiness, and if all else fails - play video games.