Happiness Surges After Middle Age
My friends and I have had a rough time lately. I personally went to four funerals of people I loved last year, lost a pet, my father had a cancer scare, my pre-teen was very difficult, I didn’t have enough time to nurture key relationships, and the economy was a scary wild-card. Compared to what my friends were going through (divorces, suicidal kids, dying parents, layoffs, serious health issues, and more), I felt lucky.
One night, as I lay in bed, I thought, “Is it going to be this hard forever?” I Googled “happiness by age” to get a statistical answer to my question. Turns out… no.
According to this article and others with similar findings, happiness bottoms out in middle age as people are squeezed between aging children, dying parents, massive life transitions, and the need to make money and be relevant in the world. It is indeed the hardest time in our lives if we are middle-aged. Somehow, that gave me some relief: get through this, and it will get better over time.
The article goes on to highlight a few factors that correlate to higher and lower happiness, including the one that stood out to me as I lay stewing over my pre-teen struggle:
The article also highlighted how much involuntary unemployment or underemployment massively affects happiness. “NO DUH” said everyone who has been fired or laid off. The layoffs this year affected so many people, their families, and friends. The cultural energy was one of fear, anxiety, and a scarcity mindset.
The good news is it will get better. “Some decades are hard,” a mother figure once told me. I thought she was crazy then, but now I agree. Some decades are hard. But I think we’ve crested the hardest part in the economy, possibly in some of our lives. Or maybe I’m just an eternal optimist.
One funny take: When sharing this chart with a friend, he sent back his edit… the inverse nature of our happiness as we age and how much we give a f**k:
Hang in there friends! I think it will get better. I’m already feeling better.
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