Antidote to Becoming a Grump

Society tends to associate grumpiness with age. I challenge this assumption having had the displeasure of encountering grumpiness among the young as well as the old. However, given that it is connected with getting older I will explore what might lead to this unpleasant behaviour and hopefully advice on how to avoid becoming a grump at any age.


What are the telltale signs of a grumpy person and how can we recognize it in others and ourselves? Language is a good indicator whether we are on the road to becoming grumpy. For example, the word “too” should be seen as an early warning sign. It may be too cold, too hot, too noisy, etc. which seriously sounds like a moan. We also appear to have forgotten to smile or laugh. When was the last time you found something amusing or entertaining as opposed being irritated or annoyed?

How often do we find ourselves complaining about the younger generation? It is unwarranted as the younger generation is probably a lot more tolerant of differences in others than the grumpy older person. Another warning sign is getting angry and resentful with change, rejecting new ideas and objects without at least giving it a try before doing so.

Constant upgrades of software on various smart phones and tablets are just one example that comes to mind. Yes, technology is constantly changing which means we have to unlearn and relearn new ways of doing things all the time and no, there is not a conspiracy theory against the older generation. The bonus of changes such as these is that we are constantly learning which keeps our minds supple. View it as part of the mental gym for the brain.

My father was a firm believer that idleness leads to misdemeanors of all kinds and I think it is true of any age. Idleness as we get older will inevitably lead to depression, ill health and heaven forbid, grumpiness.

It is not much fun being around a grumpy person and being one will inevitably result in isolation and loneliness. Who in their right mind would choose to spend time with a negative person who can only focus on what is wrong and annoying with the world as opposed to the positives in life.

However, all is not lost and recent research challenges the stereotype of the grumpy old man or women. Instead it suggests that we actually become more tolerant and happier as we get older. It goes on to say that older people are also much more likely to be trusting of others than the younger generation.

There is significant research that suggests we become happier once we pass the 50 year old mark. Just one of the many benefits of getting older. It is also the age when we may not have to worry about climbing the career ladder. This allows us to live much more in the moment without having to chase unrealistic goals.

The latter could be a reason why some people become grumpy as they may harbor feelings of unfulfilled potential in their careers. Letting go of bitterness and frustrations such as these will go a long way in avoiding grumpiness and achieving a happier and more fulfilling existence.

There is a tendency to become set in our ways as we get older and the danger is that we lose our sense of adventure and therefore deny ourselves unexpected pleasures and experiences. It also contributes to grumpiness as we become averse to anything that challenges our predictable routine.


We must be conscious to daily challenge ourselves to step outside of our comfort zones and do at least one thing every day that we wouldn’t normally do. Another workout as part of the mental gym for the brain.

The conclusion is that yes, our personalities change as we get older. However, there is no scientific evidence to suggest that we necessarily become grumpy and angry with the world as we age. Grumpiness may therefore have more to do with our personalities than a fact of ageing.

It is true that life is not perfect, but it is down to us to choose an attitude of acceptance when we are unable to change circumstances and events. A positive attitude will go a long way in helping us to accept what comes our way. I’m once again reminded of the advice by Mihaly Csikzentmihalyi in his book entitled, The Flow, advising that activities which engender pleasure and lasting satisfaction are the sources of happiness.

It is therefore up to us to guard against emotional sloppiness and exercise a positive attitude of gratitude for our blessings. There is always something to be grateful for and look forward to.


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