Anyone want to make a fast buck here? I think I've identified a large hole in the marketing-to-boomers market and the first one to fill it is going to be rich -- seriously rich, I tell you.
The problem that needs to be fixed is this: There is no place for midlifers to go dancing. No, I'm not talking about taking tango lessons with your husband because your therapist thinks it will reignite something long dead in your marriage. Nor am I talking about those Country-Western line dancing places where you're supposed to wear cowboy boots and a hat.
No, what I mean is some good-old-fashioned-get-down-and-boogie-until-you're-a-sweaty-mess-and-the-next-morning-hope-you-didn't-blacken-any-eyes-with-your-fist-pumps dancing. Admit it: That sounds kind of fun, doesn't it?
The sad truth is that my dancing days of late are limited to Bar Mitzvah receptions and my oversized shower. Occasionally, I throw a Best-Girlfriends-Only Dance Party on my deck. My kids prefer to go off on sleepovers those evenings. I think it's better for all involved if they do, actually.
But the reality is that mid-lifers don't have any place to go dancing and this is a sad state of affairs.
As my 47-year-old friend Veda Kaplan notes, nobody is letting us past the velvet ropes anymore. And for the record, Veda is a six-foot bombshell for whom many a velvet rope has parted.
Dancing, for me, has always been about just letting loose. In my 20s, I frequented gay clubs because that's where the best dancing was taking place and I saw no need to confuse the joy of dancing with the complications of dating. Dates were a movie and dinner; dancing was just for me.
For the record, I'm not a bad dancer and I don't believe that I look foolish at all. Probably more to the point, even if I do, I kind of don't care. I have a decent sense of rhthym and a real passion for loud, rocking music. With the one exception of my abysmal attempt to join the office hip hop class, I can't think of a time I didn't enjoy moving to music. (And for the record, had wine been served first, I suspect I would have hung in there.)
But nowadays all I want to do is dance, dance, dance. And I have no place to do it. What the world needs is a chain of dance clubs for midlifers, not another social media network.
On a recent family vacation to the Palm Springs area, we dined one evening at a place called The Nest. For those who don't hail from these parts, the Palm Springs area is known for two things: It's a gay haven and is also a major center for retirees -- older retirees who play golf and relate to streets named Buddy Holly Drive and Frank Sinatra Lane. Sun City Palm Desert alone has 5,000 homes and there are a gajillion other smaller retirement communities filled with people comfortable having their parks, schools and hospitals named after dead Republican presidents who shared their affinity for the area.
And The Nest is a perennial favorite. While the food wasn't The French Laundry (nor were the prices), the main attraction -- as noted in many of the TripAdvisor reviews -- is that this is where older people come to dance. They get all gussied up and start filling the place by 5 p.m. for the early-bird specials.
By the time the hot desert sun goes down, they're kicking up their heels and dancing the Lindy, or at least I think that's what it was. My teenage kids? Well judging from the stricken looks they wore, they probably wished they were on a sleepover. For now, I'm planning the next Best-Girlfriends-Only Dance Party on the deck. And here's what you know we'll be dancing to:
Health was "extremely important" to happiness for 73 percent of respondents. People in "good or excellent" health are three times more likely to report being "very" happy. Interestingly, what may matter most is how healthy you think you are: The AARP found that the percentage of people reporting good health is relatively stable over the 35-80 age range, varying only seven percentage points. That's despite the fact that objectively, older people are in fact not as healthy: The number of people who report they are suffering two or more medical conditions increased 400 percent over the 35-80 age range. (People may be comparing their health to their peers who are in worse shape.)
Some 68 percent of respondents called relationships "extremely important" to happiness. Some 72 percent of people who were married or in a relationship called themselves "very happy" or "pretty happy" -- compared to 60 percent of singles. AARP asked respondents to rank the importance of certain activities to happiness, and many of those scoring at the top were relationship-related: 72 percent said "kissing or hugging someone you love"; 72 percent said "watching your children, grandchildren or close relative succeed in what they want to do"; 69 percent said "spending time with your family and friends such as a meal or social gathering'; and 64 percent said "experiencing a special moment with a child." However, relationships did have to be real: "connecting with friends or family on a social media site like Facebook" came in 37th out of 38 activities in contributing to happiness.
Nearly half (47 percent) of respondents said pleasure was "extremely important" to happiness. Among the simple pleasures that were most important to the happiness of people 50 to 80: enjoying natural beauty like a sunset or ocean (64 percent); having someone do something nice for you unexpectedly (56 percent); practicing religious or spiritual faith (50 percent); making progress on personal goals (47%); and being absorbed in a favorite hobby or interest (42 percent).
Four in ten of those surveyed called accomplishment "extremely important" to happiness.
Meaning and engagement were considered "extremely important" to happiness among 38 and 37 percent of respondents, respectively.
Some 31 percent of respondents said money was "extremely important" to happiness. Money was slightly more important to people who earned $25,000 or less. As psychologist and Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman has noted, beyond a household income of $75,000, experienced well-being no longer increases, although people's judgment of how satisfied they are with their lives does continue to increase. At the same time, severe poverty amplifies life's misfortunes, such as illness or divorce. The AARP study found similar results: Income and happiness were positively correlated; when comparing the percentage of those "Very Happy" by income ranges, the slope increases up to the $75,000 mark, then continued to rise even more dramatically. Asked how they would spend $100 on something to increase happiness, most respondents said they would spend it on their family or going out to dinner. This correlates with findings that show buying experiences makes people happier than buying things.
People who feel they are in control of their happiness report that they are 2.5 times happier than those who believe happiness is out of their control. A sense of control is linked to higher income, higher education, good health and not experiencing a major life event in the past year. This finding also mirrors decades of research suggesting autonomy -- the feeling that your actions are self-chosen and self-endorsed -- is a core psychological need. Studies have found people who lack a sense of control -- prisoners, nursing home residents, people living under totalitarian governments -- suffer lower morale and poor health, according to David Myers, a professor at Hope College in Michigan and author of "The Pursuit of Happiness." Interestingly, a sense of control over one's happiness rises with age -- with 69 percent of people age 75 to 80 feeling they have control over their happiness, versus about half of people age 40 to 54. It may be that with the wisdom of the years, people recognize that happiness is a choice.
Spending time with a pet can be a substantial way to contribute to one's happiness, the survey found, especially for older women: 81 percent of women age 66 to 80 who own pets said spending time with them contributes "a lot" to personal happiness. It was also important to two-thirds of singles.
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