What’s the happiest age of life that you remember? Are you a content retiree enjoying her golden years now, or are your happiest memories from back when you were in your 30s, or even younger? From “sweet 16” to “40 is the new 20,” there are all sorts of theories about the age when we’re supposedly in our prime.
But finally, the truth has been revealed.
Researchers have pinpointed the two ages in adult life when you’re likely to be at your happiest, and they’ll probably surprise you. According to experts from the London School of Economics and Political Sciences, happiness peaks at two ages: 23 and 69.
What’s that–you’ve already surpassed both? Well, let’s take a look at the science. To draw this conclusion, researchers questioned 23,000 volunteers, aged 17 to 85, and found that happiness goes in a U-shape: peaking in early adulthood, bottoming out in middle age, and peaking again at the other end of the spectrum.
Think about it: Typically, 23 is an age when many people have finished third level education and are looking forward to starting their careers and earning a real income for the first time, with all the freedoms that brings. And at the age of 69, a lot of people are ready to enjoy retirement and have the stresses of raising a family behind them.
The overlying theme? A bit of freedom brings happiness–which is why it makes sense that people in middle age (think 40s, 50s, and early 60s) may be under a bit more stress, as they might be tasked with caring for loved ones both older and younger (in addition to their own responsibilities!).
But it isn’t all bad news for those in the middle, as separate research has identified some crucial steps to take to ensure you’re getting joy out of life at any age. The advice, gathered by Vanessa King, author of 10 Keys To Happier Living, consists of 10 general contributors to happiness: giving generously, relating with others, exercising, staying aware and mindful, learning new skills, having goals, showing resilience, experiencing emotions, practicing self-acceptance, and finding meaning.
Oh, is that all we need to do to find happiness?! If the list sounds overwhelming, don’t worry. They’re just a list of suggestions you can take to boost your own happiness–and every small step counts.