People who are truly happy after 50 usually display these 11 behaviors

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always found myself gravitating towards older people.

Even when I was in my 20s and 30s, I struck up friendships with people in their 50s and 60s. 

What I appreciate most about hanging out with them is that I get exposed to a lot of different and wise perspectives. And believe me, I am always taking notes.

Especially from those who are quite content and happy. I enjoy picking up pointers on how to be that way when I reach my golden years myself. 

Today, that’s what I’d love to share with you. Here are 11 behaviors you’ll see in people who are truly happy after 50: 

1) They put relationships over material possessions

First up, people who are truly happy after 50 have been around long enough to know what really matters in life. 

And it’s not material things. It’s not financial wealth. It’s also not the achievements that society has always told us to pursue. 

It’s relationships. They’re at that point in their lives where they see how much connection matters. 

So they prioritize spending quality time with family and friends over chasing the next big purchase or promotion. 

They understand that at the end of the day (and at the end of their lives), it won’t matter if they own a fancy car or a sprawling house. 

It’s the memories they’ve created and the love they shared. 

2) They love learning new things

Real talk – it’s common for some older people to think that they already know everything. I know a few who: 

  • Get defensive when you challenge their opinions
  • See their experiences as universal, and that’s why they “know better”
  • Think they’ve seen it all and there’s nothing left to learn 

But the wise ones? They aren’t like that at all. In fact, the older they get, the more they realize they don’t know anything!

And ironically, they’re the happy ones.

Why? Because that means they still approach life with an attitude of discovery. 

There’s always something new to learn, and that keeps their brains sparkly and happy. 

And I mean that quite literally. According to neuroscience research, learning something new helps our brains rewire, or make and strengthen connections between neurons. 

3) They practice gratitude

You know what else literally changes the brain?

Being grateful!

That’s right – neuroscience research has also shown that expressing gratitude for what we have prompts the brain to release dopamine and serotonin, our feel-good neurotransmitters.

The result? A feeling of long-lasting happiness and contentment. No wonder these folks stay happy even at 50 and beyond! 

What’s more, the natural offshoot of that is…

4) They are generous

When people practice gratitude in their golden years, a lovely thing happens – they’re more inclined to share their blessings.

It can be gifts of donations or it could be time and service. The happiest over-50 friends I have regularly spend time volunteering. They’re also the ones I can rely on for company and advice when I need it.

An interesting experiment proved this as well.

A group of researchers did a “pay it forward” experiment, in which participants regularly received money from a “benefactor”. This “donor” simply asked that they pay it forward if they felt grateful. 

True enough, the researchers found that the grateful ones ended up giving more money to a cause.  

5) They forgive easily

Following on from that, they have a certain generosity of the spirit, too.

By that, I mean that they find it easy to let go of grudges

A 54-year-old friend of mine told me this: “The older I get, the sharper my sense of mortality is. And that makes me think, why should I waste time on anger?” 

Don’t get me wrong, though. Forgiving doesn’t mean letting people walk all over you. It’s simply choosing not to walk through life with that ball of negativity inside you. 

That’s a wonderful thought to carry around with us no matter how old we are, don’t you think?

Life is short, so choose what you spend your energy on wisely!

who happily embrace getting older People who are truly happy after 50 usually display these 11 behaviors

6) They deal with changes and challenges with grace

You’ll see their gracious spirit in the way they handle problems, too. In their younger years, they might have been the bullheaded type who insisted on their way all the time. 

But as they grow older, they pick up a lot of life lessons along the way. Mainly this – that change is constant, and that things aren’t gonna go their way all the time. 

And that’s why they now approach challenges differently. There’s a certain peace that prevails even as they try to overcome something difficult.

The folks who are truly happy after 50 have figured out how to stay calm and collected instead of operating from a place of frustration and anger. 

It’s all about adaptability – they now know that they can’t control everything, so they focus on what they can.  

This is also why…

7) They don’t sweat the small stuff

Like I said, they’ve been around enough to know what really matters. The little things that annoy us, the younger ones, they don’t waste their energy on anymore. 

People who are truly happy in their 50s have learned the art of using their energy wisely. They know these two important principles: 

  • Not everything deserves a reaction
  • Not everything needs to be perfect

I’ve noticed this in myself, too. The older I get, the less I get bothered by the small stuff. I used to get frustrated over things like someone cutting me off in traffic. Or a friend being late for a coffee catch-up. 

And I hate to admit this, but I’d get so bothered when someone had a different opinion from me (especially when it comes to politics) that I’d just ice them out. 

But now…I no longer fall into these mood-sucking traps. Perhaps that’s what hanging around older people has taught me.

They’ve taught me that if I want to be happier, I need to not let the small stuff get to me so much. 

8) They find joy in simple pleasures

Another lesson I’ve learned from my older friends who are truly happy after 50 is that there’s joy to be found in the simple things. 

That it doesn’t take much to be happy. And that it’s our responsibility to find pockets of joy in our life. 

See, we don’t think of joy and happiness as something we should actively cultivate, right? We think of them as things that happen to us, almost by chance. 

But what my friends have shown me is that happiness is more about a choice and an intentional practice than mere chance. They choose to find beauty in the mundane

One friend even told me, “You know, it’s funny how I used to believe I’d only be happy if I became a millionaire or if I owned the latest whatever. Only to find that it’s the smallest things that can lift my spirits!”

So start looking at the world around you in this light – let the simple pleasures like sitting on a swing or looking at flowers nourish your soul. 

9) They connect with the outdoors

Speaking of simple pleasures, that’s also why people who are happy after 50 love connecting with nature. 

Nature has the power to restore us. Let’s look at what the UK Mental Health Foundation has to say about it:

 “Nature can generate many positive emotions, such as calmness, joy, and creativity and can facilitate concentration. Nature connectedness is also associated with lower levels of poor mental health, particularly lower depression and anxiety.”

I’ve seen for myself that this is true – being in nature does rejuvenate me and bring me back to my center when things are feeling chaotic.

So I try to go on a hiking trip every month. I love walking through parks and going to the beach. And I’ve got a pretty little garden going on! These are habits I intend to keep no matter how old I get. 

10) They make wise financial decisions

Of course, let’s be realistic – material possessions shouldn’t be our focus, but it’s just a fact that money is important.

Money does bring comfort, security, and peace of  mind.

You can’t enjoy retirement and growing older if you’re always worrying about money. That’s why the ones who are happy at this life stage are very fiscally responsible. 

They’ve done the hard work of planning for a secure future and they continue to be mindful of their spending. 

11) They take their health seriously

Similarly, it’s hard to be happy if you’ve got all sorts of ailments going on. 

People who are truly happy after 50 are quite responsible with their health, too. 

Gone are the days when they’d indulge too much in rich, fat-laden meals. In glass after glass of alcohol. 

And they make exercise a priority as well. My older friends always have some type of  physical activity going on. 

Some do yoga or tai chi in the mornings, some go on daily walks or jogs, some have a weekly swim session at the pool. I even have a friend who still joins marathons at 65!

They know that regular exercise and movement isn’t just good for their body. It also releases the feel-good hormones that improve their mental health. 

Final thoughts

True happiness after 50 isn’t just a matter of circumstance. It doesn’t just happen to you – you make it happen. 

Hopefully, these behaviors can serve as your inspiration. Let them be a guide to cultivating the joy and contentment that will make your golden years a fulfilling time of your life.

Picture of Eliza Hartley

Eliza Hartley

Eliza Hartley, a London-based writer, is passionate about helping others discover the power of self-improvement. Her approach combines everyday wisdom with practical strategies, shaped by her own journey overcoming personal challenges. Eliza's articles resonate with those seeking to navigate life's complexities with grace and strength.

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