If you can get through the late-forties, with all its changes and struggles, the 50s and beyond are for many the best years of their lives. Old enough to know better and young enough to enjoy life’s many pleasures, new research has found that once adults make it through the mid-life happiness dip, it’s generally uphill from there.
According to a recent National Post report, a new study by Professor of Economics at Dartmouth College, David Blanchflower, finds that unhappiness can be tracked on a u-shaped age curve. And using data from nearly 10 million people across Europe and the United States, 47.2 is pinpointed as the average age people in the developed world report having the least happiness.
Unhappiness is measured by Blanchflower as having feelings of despair, anxiety, loneliness, sadness, strain, depression and bad nerves. Phobias and panic, downheartedness, restless sleep, a loss of confidence, tension, a feeling of worthlessness or feeling left out are also symptomatic of unhappiness for the purposes of this study. Adjusting for education, marital and workplace status, in both poor and rich countries the unhappiness dip was only different by a year; 48.2 in developing countries. And despite life expectancy, around age 47 or 48, adults feel the least happy and struggle with loneliness, isolation and lack of community. Poor job satisfaction and lower wages compared with a decade ago, fewer marriages and less religious affiliations are also contributing factors in the mid-life unhappiness crisis.
The good news is that once adults have navigated the stress and strains of their late forties, the future holds greater self-confidence, stability, perspective and as a result, more happiness. The forties can be a tough decade for many adults wedged between the responsibilities of work, children, marriage and often the needs of aging parents. But, after making it through middle age, albeit with perhaps less hair or a few extra pounds, older adults report more life satisfaction. You know yourself, care less about what others think and can take a little more time to do things that improve well being; like staying socially connected with friends and family, getting regular exercise and eating a healthier diet.
The future is bright and you are not alone if the late 40s beat you up a bit. Don’t be fooled by your friends’ Facebook or Instagram posts, it’s not all beaches and margaritas for anyone.
Here’s to 50+ and happier days to come!