It’s all uphill from here. Old people are the happiest of all

Everybody wants to be happy and we often assume that the younger you are the happier you are. But the truth seems to be that happiness increases with age.

happiness-curveIn the last couple of decades happiness has been studied by researchers across the world.The results are striking. Four variables seem to impact happiness: gender (women report greater life satisfaction than men); personality (extroverts are happiest and neurotics least happy); circumstances; and, surprisingly, age.

We enter adulthood relatively happy, but our happiness levels progressively decline until they hit their lowest point around 50. After that there is a steep rise right into old age. The pattern, diagrammed for the US,  has been tested across more than 70 countries and a host of variable. It holds true regardless of wealth, employment status, children, or country.

Of course, we are talking about a fairly narrow range. The difference between reported sense of psychological well being in our diagram shows 50-53 year olds average 6.3 out of 10, while 80 year olds are just under 7 out of 10. So the variation is less than 10%.

There are multiple interpretations as to why the pattern exists, but given I turn 50 this year, it’s a most encouraging result. Looks like the only way is up!

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