The Two Happiest Years Of Your Life

October 5, 2018

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A team of researchers at the London School of Economics and Political Science interviewed 23,000 adults between the ages of 17 & 85, and asked them about how satisfied they were with their lives and to predict how happy they envisioned being in five years. They then interviewd those same people again at exactly five years later to see if their expectations matched reality. 

The team discovered a happiness U-curve between the ages of 20 and 70, with the maximum joy experieced at 23 and 69. Since 23 is typically an age when we’re full of momentum and optimism about the future, that perhaps makes it the more predictable of the two. 69, however, is an age when the stresses of the unknown are behind us and we can possibly enjoy the fruits of our labor, both professional and personal.

Researchers noted that younger people tended to overestimate the happiness of their future selves, while the older people tended to underestimate it. During the followup interviews the 20-somethings reported being disillusioned by the previous five years, while the 60-somethings were pleasantly surprised by the trajectory of their lives.