Think you have already reached your peak in life? You might want to think again. (It’s just one of the many myths of happiness.) We want to share some good news with you: Your happiest years are still ahead!
According to new research, we’re happiest at two points in our lives—not just one. Researchers at the London School of Economics and Political Science asked 23,000 German volunteers aged 17 to 85 to rate their life satisfaction. Participants predicted how happy they would feel in five years, and then, after five years’ time, reported back on how they actually felt.
Their results? Anything but negative! The study found that happiness tends to follow a U-shaped curve over an individual’s lifetime, with satisfaction reaching higher levels during the extremes of the study’s age range and swinging down with middle age. Plus, the researchers noted the two most important years when happiness peaks: ages 23 and 69.
If you think about it, that makes a lot of sense. In our early 20s, we’re energetic and excited for the changes that come along with young age: new careers, new places to travel, and new people to meet. (It’s also why millennials are the happiest generation ever!) By the time we reach our 60s and 70s, though, we have likely retired and can now find the time—not to mention the money!—to book a flight to Hawaii at a moment’s notice.
The dip in middle age is also pretty logical. After all, your 40+ years are a busy time filled with “raising families, climbing the corporate ladder, and you know, life in general,” Brit+Co writes.
Of course, that’s all the more reason to find easy ways to be happier without really trying, regardless of your age! Experts recommend prioritizing small yet rewarding tasks like taking a walk or spending time with family. Just remember, now you have one more reason to look forward to getting older: a boost in happiness!