Is Your Future Bigger Than Your Past? The Surprising Age When Happiness Peaks

Is Your Future Bigger Than Your Past? The Surprising Age When Happiness Peaks

You probably looked at your parents’ and grandparents’ retirement as times of slowing down.  But, if you are in your 50s, 60s and even 70s or 80s, I am willing to bet that is not how you feel about your own future.

happiness peaks

Now — the age of retirement — is an exciting time to restart life. And, research firmly backs that these years could be your best ever.

Surprising Findings: The Ages When People Are Happiest

This is likely to surprise you.  I was kind of shocked, but a few years ago researchers identified the two ages in an adult’s life when you are likely to be at your happiest.

Experts from Princeton University and the London School of Economics and Political Sciences found that happiness peaks at the ages of 23 and 69.

Whoa!  Sixty nine!  That is older than many of us.  And, even if you have surpassed 69, there is still lots of happiness to be had — happiness does not generally drop off a cliff!

To determine the happiest ages, researchers questioned 23,000 volunteers, aged 17 to 85.  They found that these two ages are the happiest because:

  • At 23, you have the rigors of education behind you and are embarking on an exciting adult life.  You are earning income and have new freedoms.
  • At 69, the stresses of raising a family are behind you and retirement represents a new start — a time for you.

So, Is Your Future Bigger than Your Past?

I was recently inspired by a column by the sketch guy, Carl Richards, in the New York Times.

He talked about the Dan Sullivan Question, one simple question designed to help you make the most of your future:

 “If you and I were to meet three years from today, what would you want to have happened for you, personally and professionally, in order to consider those years a success?

In other words, what do you need to do now to insure that your future is bigger (better, happier, more fulfilling) than your past?  For me, this question seems more vital for the second half of my llife than the first.

Dan Sullivan has written two books on the topic, “The Dan Sullivan Question” and “The Laws of Lifetime Growth.”

And, if planning for your future is of interest to you, you might enjoy this article: “How to Plan for Your Retirement? Just Imagine It – 7 Ways to Achieve a Secure Future.”

Tips for Happiness in Retirement

Here are a few of my favorite methods for increasing happiness — daily and as a whole, no matter your age:

Have a Written Retirement Plan: Yes, we are a retirement planning web site, so maybe we are biased.  I prefer to think that we just really believe in what we are doing!

And, having a written retirement plan is proven to reduce stress and make you feel better — more confident — about your future.

And let’s face it, stress is almost the exact opposite of happiness!

Think About Death: I just loaded an app onto my phone: “WeCroak.”  It sends me an alert at 5 random times throughout the day that says, “You are going to die.” Oddly enough, the result is that I feel pretty good about where I am today.

Sure, thinking about death is inherently “morbid.”  But, the irony is that it is also actually life affirming.  As the WeCroak creators say, “a regular practice of contemplating mortality helps us accept what we must, let go of things that don’t matter and honor the things that do.”

And, finding happiness by contemplating your mortality is a scientifically backed technique.

Find the Positive: There are two sides to every coin and a glass is always either half full or half empty.  You get to choose what to focus on and focusing on the positive is a sure fire way to feel happier.

No matter how dire the circumstances, work hard to find one little glimmer or hope and happiness. Focus on that. Foster it. And, you’ll probably find that the little spot of goodness will get bigger.

Focus on Relationships: Nurturing your relationships with friends and family and creating new friends has been proven in study after study to be the secret of not only a happy life — but also a longer life.  Loneliness is as big a predictor of an earlier death as smoking!

Have a Purpose: Giving back and feeling part of a community are well recognized as being keys to happiness — especially in old age.

Harvard University’s landmark study of aging well, found that “generativity” (giving back and participating in your community) tripled the chances that someone would feel joy throughout their seventies.  Explore “3 Ways to Find Meaning and Purpose in Retirement.”

Want more tips?  Here are “50 Tips for a Healthy, Wealthy and Happy Retirement.”

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