According to an article in the NY Times I should be about to enter the worst time in my life on the “happiness” scale.
In a survey carried out in 2008 Gallup asked 340,000 people between the age of 18 and 85 to rank their overall life satisfaction from 1 to 10 in these areas: enjoyment, happiness, stress, worry, anger, sadness. The answers, researchers say, reveal “hedonic well-being” or a person’s immediate experience of those psychological states. They say that patterns did emerge (like the age of 50 being a real turning point for many) and that further research is needed to find answers. The results?
On the global measure, people start out at age 18 feeling pretty good about themselves, and then, apparently, life begins to throw curve balls. They feel worse and worse until they hit 50.
Enjoyment and happiness have similar curves: they both decrease gradually until we hit 50, rise steadily for the next 25 years, and then decline very slightly at the end, but they never again reach the low point of our early 50s.
Stress declines from age 22 onward, reaching its lowest point at 85.
Worry stays fairly steady until 50, then sharply drops off.
Anger decreases steadily from 18 on.
Sadness rises to a peak at 50.
They do go on to say what happens after 50:
At that point, there is a sharp reversal, and people keep getting happier as they age. By the time they are 85, they are even more satisfied with themselves than they were at 18.
In my own happiness scale, having come through a period of self-reflection (self-reflection – isn’t that a kinder sounding word than unhappy, unsure, depressed, miserable, confused, bored, lonely….) I feel like I’m on the upswing now so perhaps I already hit 50 about 6 months ago? Which is about one year early.
Either that or I get to look forward to another dip downwards….before I get on that incline in the scale of happiness again.
Either way, like they say in the article, getting old doesn’t seem quite so bad now.