Chasing and defining happiness has long been a goal of mankind – is there a surefire key to achieving happiness? And how do you keep it? Many have come to the conclusion that happiness can take different forms for different people and can rely on various different factors (health, wellbeing, finances, work, social life etc).
However, one study published in the Social Indicators Research journal has managed to determine the age at which we are most likely to be at our happiest – the happiest age, if you will.
The study asked people over the age of 50 from 13 European countries to determine the periods of their life they felt the happiest and the result found that we can expect to feel the most content between the ages of 30 and 34.
‘I find that the probability of achieving the happiest period in life evolves systematically with age,’ wrote the study’s author Begoña Álvarez. ‘The probability increases sharply from childhood to the ages of 30–34, when it reaches the maximum. At this point it is important to remark that individuals’ happiest periods are long on average: for half of respondents this period lasts two decades or longer.’
‘Therefore, a more precise reading of the previous finding is that the early 30s is the stage of life with the highest chances of belonging to the happiest period in life, though the probability also remains relatively high at adjacent ages and declines as individuals grow older.’
While it’s encouraging to know that happiness levels don’t immediately drop off on your 35th birthday, we should account for people looking back on their lives with rose-tinted glasses and perhaps remembering a time as happier than the lived experience was. For example, your early thirties are often a time when big decisions are made – settling down, getting married, having children – which at the time can be stressful but looking back could be remembered as a time when lots of great ‘milestone’ events happened.
Additionally, the study was also able to pinpoint the least happiest times in our life, which it found to be between the ages of 10 and 14 – commonly a time of big personal change with puberty taking place – and after the age of 70 – this could be put down to a general decrease in health and mobility.