We come of age and lose our faculties, but it is in the peaks and valleys between that we discover the best days of our lives.
An analysis of seven life-studies spanning decade finds a clear U-curve in how we experience happiness. When defined in terms of contentment and satisfaction, we find that 20 years of age is the first peak. It is a time of potentials, opportunities, horizons and possibilities when the anxiety, insecurity and uncertainty doesn’t get your down.
“I think when you’re 20 you have an idealism of what your life is going to be like,” says Pamela Gail Johnson, president of the Secret Society of Happy People.
Reality and middle age quickly follow, and the analysis of hundreds of thousands of lives finds the quicksand of responsibility sinks happiness reliably. 35 is life’s low-point.
The second peak comes around age 50. “By the time you’re 50 you’ve learned how to coexist with the chaos. You’ve learned life isn’t a straight line,” suggests Johnson. We’ve honed in on the meaning of life by then, and where to find it. “A Harvard study says the number one key to happiness is relationships, meaning quality relationships.”
Johnson and her group have identified 31 types of happiness.