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Is Happiness Affected by Aging? When Are We the Happiest in Life?

All about happiness and its effects while we age.

Pop the champagne cos what you are about to find out is definitely worth celebrating – the question about happiness is finally answered!

The paradox of well-being, is, true.

The paradox of well-being is that older people can maintain positive or subjective well-being in later life despite age-related changes or declines in circumstances, health, or income. This is particularly widely observed in countries with higher GDP.


Happiness describes a range of positive emotions that includes joy, pride, contentment and gratitude.

Furthermore, psychology researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky elaborates, describing happiness as “the experience of joy, contentment, or positive well-being, combined with a sense that one’s life is good, meaningful, and worthwhile.”

Happiness across the lifespan forms a big smiley.

Happiness comes in U-shaped across the course of our life – and David Blanchlower and Andrew Oswald confirm the paradox of well-being.

Ever wondered what the formula is to be happy? Find out here.

Aging does not make people less happy. On the contrary, amongst the researched 340,847 subjects, from feeling very happy around 21 years old, the sense of well-being declined with occasional short rises before reaching the lowest point of well-being after the age of 50s.  Yes, it gets better and better after the 50s –  to the highest happiness points in their later life.

Image showing the Global WB: ladder. Mean plotted by 4-year age groups, where the connected line is for men and dashed lines are for women. About happiness.

To put it in perspective, the oldest individuals felt the same degree of happiness as the 40-year-olds and people in their late 20s at times – remember the carefree euphoric feelings back in the good old days?!  Isn’t it nice to know that we’ll later get to savor it again, and then some!

Mid-life crisis is the bottom of our sense of well-being
– then, yes, it gets better.

Indeed, the so-named “a striking age and well-being association” comes after the age of 50s.  So the mid-life crisis is, in fact, the rock bottom of happiness across the lifespan.  Stress and anger sharply declined from the early 20s, the level of worry elevated through middle age before decreasing for the better.

A study in 2011 found that increased net income, positive psychological state of being, good self-rated health, good health status, and social support were determinants of a higher degree of happiness, a total of 73% of relevance.

A study was carried out by the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. It reported that older adults are more happy and content with their lives than younger adults.

It was also found in the research that happiness is also dependent on the types of choices we make. It contained different aspects of life and summed up as the whole things are based on what we give to ourselves in our younger time. So the paradox of happiness also depends upon how we treat it.

What you do now – affects how you will feel later.

How you feel – the sense of life satisfaction – is very much related to what you do in your life. If elderly individuals believe that they have led a happy, productive life, they develop contentment and integrity during the last stage in life. The opposite applies – if they considered that they led a life of disappointments and unachieved goals, the individuals might rather develop a sense of despair reinforced by an 8-year longitudinal study.


There are certain tips by professionals that can make you feel happier in your primetime:

  1. Keep smiling – Dr. Marmolejo-Ramos found that when one forcefully practices smiling, it stimulates the amygdala that releases neurotransmitters to encourage an emotionally positive state. So when your facial muscles say you are happy, you are more likely to experience your job and coworkers in a more positive light. Being happy can be triggered! With embodied cognition, the same goes to body movements that can contribute to how you feel – standing up straight can instantly yield more confidence to oneself. Always start and end your day with a smile on your face. Keep the endorphins game strong and the rose-tinted glasses on!
  2. Stay healthy – Always eat healthily. Keep track of diet and food. If you are following a prescription, keep a check on your medications. Visit your doctors and have your checkup regularly.
  3. Prioritize your family and friends – As we age, we know that socializing is basically the key to happiness. Always be there with your loved one, your friends, and your family on their special occasions. Keep yourselves connected with them. Enjoy every moment of your life.
  4. Go out daily – Sometimes, staying indoors can make you feel sad. Try to visit outside the home for a short walk for a mood changer or a trip to the supermarket. You might make new friends!
  5. Establish a sense of humor – Make laughing a habit. It’s a fact that laughing can aggravate happy hormones. Keep up your humor levels high by laughing at silly jokes. Age has nothing to do with that for sure!
  6. Always strive to inspire – It is easy to be happy when you motivate to do something. Engage yourself in learning new things or skills, either a smartphone game or a crossword puzzle, and develop your interests in it. Be inspired by your younger generation.
  7. Give back to community- Find a way you can make others happy. Doing volunteer work can make you happier. It can be any skill related to small tasks like helping in general community activities or teaching a young child how to wash off his pet. It will be satisfied from your side and happiness for others.

In the end, there is a note for all;

The greyer the world gets, the brighter it becomes

There is a scientific formula to be happy in the short and long term; find out how here.

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Lois Chan

Lois has worked in the health and skincare industry since 2004. Highly optimistic about aging, she is still pragmatic enough to prepare thoroughly for the future. is Lois' brainchild; a website offering scientifically researched solutions to challenges that people face in every stage of their lives. Join her on her journey for wisdom through the ages.
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