We enjoy life the most during our young adult lives and again when we are on the cusp of becoming septuagenarians.
However, the long years in between appear to present many emotional peaks and valleys. That’s according to a new study, which finds that the two happiest years of a person’s life are 23 and 69.
The results of the study are being published this week by the Center for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics.
“One theory is that the U-shape is driven by unmet aspirations which are painfully felt in midlife but beneficially abandoned later in life,” Princeton researcher Hannes Schwandt, who led the London School of Economics study, told the Daily Mail.
Other recent studies have attempted to track happiness to economic security. For example, a 2010 Princeton study found that personal wealth does affect one’s respective happiness but only up to about $75,000. Beyond that, other studies have found that personal relationships and physical health are more intricately tied to happiness.
Another article published today looks at the “10 Habits of Happiness,” which include gratitude lists, getting enough sleep and spending time outdoors.
For the study, Schwandt and his team compared happiness levels for 23,161 Germans between the ages of 17 and 85.
Schwandt said individuals enter a lowered state of happiness at around age 55, when they begin to negatively analyze the various unrealized accomplishments in their lives. However, at around age 60, the happiness level begins a steady uptick as those same people move beyond their past regrets and enter a level of acceptance.
“People in their fifties could learn from the elderly, who generally feel less regret,” he said. “They should try not to be frustrated by their unmet expectations because they are probably not feeling much worse than their peers.”
However, the study found that happiness again begins to decline as individuals move into their 70s.
And if you want to take part in your own happiness survey, there’s a new app that lets users track their personal happiness and upload data that will be analyzed as part of a larger happiness study by the Harvard University Committee for the Use of Human Subjects.
- London School of Economics