Link Between Age and Happiness?

On July 23, 2013, Time.com published an article by Matt Peckham, entitled:  “Study:  23 and 69 are the Happiest Ages” navigate to this web-site.  Peckham was referring to the findings of a recent study done by the Center for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics.

According to this study, people’s happiness levels peaked at age 23, followed by a decline through the 50s, another increase through the 60s and peaking again at age 69, and then declining once again at about age 75.  While the article did not go into detail about the possible reasons behind these fluctuations, the findings do seem to make sense.  People in their early 20s are just starting out their adult life, and tend to have high hopes and aspirations for their future.  By the 50s, those who have not achieved their goals tend to experience dissatisfaction and disillusionment.  Consequently, they focus on creating and working toward new goals (hence, the so-called “midlife crisis”).  By the late 60s, people tend to come to terms with their past disappointments and regrets, and are thus better able to enjoy what they have accomplished up to that point in their life.  Then, by the mid-70s, people are faced with the realization that they may not live long enough to achieve all the goals they have set for themselves  —  which could be quite depressing, and even scary, for people to think about.

Peckham mentioned in his article that mental attitudes do play a vital part in people’s happiness levels, as evidenced in another recent study published by the Journal of Research in Personality.  I do agree that happiness is a matter of perspective, no matter what age we are.  It seems that the top three steps we would need to take to be happy are:

1.  Being aware of what truly makes us happy (rather than what we think “should” make us happy),

2.  Knowing what we can and cannot control, and focusing on whatever we CAN control, and

3.  Accepting whatever we cannot control, and then figuring out our “Plan B” to address steps 1 and 2 above.

There will be times in our life when we feel like we may never find happiness.  It is during these emotionally challenging times when it would be helpful to work with a licensed therapist who could help you find the happiness you seek.

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