Ageing International

, Volume 35, Issue 4, pp 311–326 | Cite as

An Exploration of the Happiness-enhancing Activities Engaged in by Older Adults

  • Annette HenricksenEmail author
  • Christine Stephens


Although happiness has been found to relate to positive outcomes across a number of areas, there has been little research conducted on how to increase and sustain it. Intentional happiness-enhancing activities have been identified as a promising avenue of inquiry, but again this area is under-researched, particularly in relation to older adults. We address this gap by exploring the happiness-enhancing activities older adults engage in, with a thematic analysis of interview data from 23 adults (56–76 years old). Four main themes—‘other-focused’, ‘personal recreation and interests’, ‘thoughts and attitudes’, and ‘achievement-related’ activities—are identified and discussed, along with ‘spiritual activities’ and ‘self-concordant work’, which were found to span multiple themes. The findings fit with and add to extant research and theory related to enhancing happiness and will be used as the basis for inventory items to be included in the next wave of a major longitudinal study of older adults.


Subjective well-being Happiness Older adults Activities Strategies 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of PsychologyMassey UniversityPalmerston NorthNew Zealand

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