These Two Years Are Officially the Happiest of Your Life

By Andrew Polikarpov / Freestockpro
By Andrew Polikarpov / Freestockpro

Wellness Editor

When you reflect on your life are there certain years that stick out as particularly joy-filled? The year you could legally order yourself a cocktail? Your time at university? When you finally got your dream job? Researchers have discovered that happiness peaks at two points in life, and even though one might be behind you, the other is yet to come.

The Centre of Economic Performance at the London School of Economics and Political Science interviewed 23,000 German adults aged 17–85, quizzing them on their life satisfaction and asking them to predict how happy they envisioned being in five years time. That exact time later, those same people were re-interviewed to see if the reality matched their expectations.

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

Interestingly, researchers noted that younger people tended to overestimate the happiness of their future selves, while the older people tended to underestimate it, so during the followup interviews the twenty-somethings reported being disillusioned by the last five years (career stress! dating dramas!), while the sixty-somethings were pleasantly surprised by the trajectory of their lives.

The things we imagine will make us happy inevitably disappoint (as they say, expectation is the thief of joy), and studies suggest we’re better off prioritizing life’s simple pleasures. A walk outdoors on a sunny day, regular endorphin-boosting exercise, listening to our favorite music, nurturing close friendships and adopting an attitude of gratitude—in other words choosing to be happy—are all fail-safe ways to feel more positive about life.

Culture Trips launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes places and communities so special.

Our immersive trips, led by Local Insiders, are once-in-a-lifetime experiences and an invitation to travel the world with like-minded explorers. Our Travel Experts are on hand to help you make perfect memories. All our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

All our travel guides are curated by the Culture Trip team working in tandem with local experts. From unique experiences to essential tips on how to make the most of your future travels, we’ve got you covered.

close-ad
Edit article