March 16, 2012

"A large Gallup poll has found that by almost any measure, people get happier as they get older..."

"The telephone survey, carried out in 2008, covered more than 340,000 people nationwide, ages 18 to 85..."
On the global measure, people start out at age 18 feeling pretty good about themselves, and then, apparently, life begins to throw curve balls. They feel worse and worse until they hit 50. At that point, there is a sharp reversal, and people keep getting happier as they age. By the time they are 85, they are even more satisfied with themselves than they were at 18.

In measuring immediate well-being — yesterday’s emotional state — the researchers found that stress declines from age 22 onward, reaching its lowest point at 85. Worry stays fairly steady until 50, then sharply drops off. Anger decreases steadily from 18 on, and sadness rises to a peak at 50, declines to 73, then rises slightly again to 85. Enjoyment and happiness have similar curves: they both decrease gradually until we hit 50, rise steadily for the next 25 years, and then decline very slightly at the end, but they never again reach the low point of our early 50s.

24 comments:

Paul Zrimsek said...

You're not fooling anyone, you'll be stone dead in a moment.

EMD said...

This is good news for those of us who are getting older.

bagoh20 said...

It depends what day of the week, more than anything else. Friday is my peak happiness and Monday my low, and I already have plans to be irrationally infuriated for 5 hours later next week - just to make sure I still got it.

Now back to my regularly scheduled euphoric Friday. Yahoooo!

madAsHell said...

All my boxes are checked, but I still ain't believin' any poll that measures my happiness.

"A gram is better than a damn."

AllieOop said...

It's retirement for me, casting off the yoke of punching the clock. Those of you not enjoying retirement, you just don't know how to have fun.

bagoh20 said...

If a young person ask my advice on life. I'd say: "pay attention'.

traditionalguy said...

If you don't have your health, then you don't have anything.

That said, the degree that you intentionally surround yourself with "safe people" and stay involved with a group of them will determine your happiness. And how is Mr Meade today?

As we age we learn this secret is all that matters. Then as we get into our mid 70s we experience many of our wonderful safe people group leaving us as they get sick or die.

Bruce Hayden said...

Probably because after 50, it really doesn't matter as much. Your kids are hopefully on their own (ok, I am a bit late there), and if you haven't been saving for retirement, you are probably SOL. If you aren't in the office next door to the president of the company yet, you never will get the big office.

That sort of thing.

And, then you can throw in the physical side. Libido drops, memory fades, and time speeds up.

But, mostly, I think, most of that stuff, whether it means getting ahead, or getting laid, just doesn't matter as much, or, soon for many of us, at all.

edutcher said...

A lot of it is that, when you're young, you really don't know what you want or what really makes you happy.

I was quite happy in my middle 40s and it's tailed off a bit since then.

Of course, depression is a party favor of Cushing's, so sometimes I may have been a little happier than it seemed.

Seeing somebody in the White house may not make the desert bloom, but most of us will breathe a lot easier.

Levi Starks said...

I know exactly why 50 is so magical,
It's when most peoples kids leave hime.
It did wonder for me.

Fen said...

To be more precise, people *learn* to be happier as they get older.

Experience teaches you that its not worth sweating the little things.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Happiness is worn gums.

Der Hahn said...

It’s an anecdotal sample of one but having just turned 50 myself I’ve definitely felt a steady adjustment to the positive in my attitude. It hasn’t hurt that in last couple of years I’ve ended a bad relationship, gotten myself in better physical shape, and connected with a very nice younger lady. Am I exactly where I wanted to be at this point in my life when I was twenty-five? No, but I can see that there are a lot worse alternatives than where I wound up. There’s an empowerment to knowing you can survive quite a bit that you don’t feel at younger ages when setbacks can seem, somewhat paradoxically, more devastating. At this point I have things I want to do but if I get thrown more curveballs, I know I can take a pretty good swing at them.

Luke Lea said...

Only up to a point.

ricpic said...

Think of the horror of reliving your 20's. Of course you get happier as you age if for no other reason than you're yute is past. Think of what it is to be hatboy. Then shudder.

ricpic said...

Oy vey, your not you're.

Kirk Parker said...

What I think is laughable is the conceit that you can measure this stuff with some quantifiable accuracy. It's like when you go to the ER and they ask you, "On a scale of 1 to 10, how bad is your pain?" WTF??? Sorry, I just don't seem to have any numeric calibrations on my pain-o-meter.

Henry said...

I've always liked getting older. Like Abe Fortas said, "I was born old." Maybe Abe Fortas was happy. He's dead now.

One of the most permanently unhappy people I know is terrified of getting older. I don't think that combination is a coincidence.

Alex said...

Imagine how happy all those boomer parents are now that their kids are moving BACK in!

Joe said...

But Abe Vigoda hasn't died!

Joe said...

It's when most peoples kids leave home.

No kidding.

Imagine how happy all those boomer parents are now that their kids are moving BACK in!

That's why you rent a very small place.

cokaygne said...

Here I am in my 70s very happy on less than half the money I made when I was in my unhappy 50s, and that is without adjusting for inflation. One thing you may notice when watching TV is that everything is marketed towards people 18-49. People under 18 don't have any dough and have to ask the 'rents for permission to buy something. When you get older you realize that you neither want nor need almost all of the crap that is being marketed. An awful lot of anxiety, in my view, comes from a frustrated desire to possess and consume all the things that are on offer because your TV screen is flooded with images of people just like you deliriously happy after buying the latest and greatest stuff.

n.n said...

Are we there yet?

Broomhandle said...

Exactly this.