When people reflect on their lives, it’s easy to see all of the ups and downs, the joys and the turmoil of life, but it’s hard for most people to pinpoint the precise happiest time of their lives. What age are people usually the happiest?
People are usually happiest at the age of 36, although contrasting studies would suggest that the happiest age is 58.
There’s a lot of controversy about when people are actually the happiest. The rest of this article will aim to answer the question of when people are usually the happiest in their lives.
It might seem surprising that in established adulthood, many people report feeling the happiest. After all, people are juggling intense workplace demands trying to climb the corporate ladder as well as the demands of child rearing and aging parents seems like a recipe for unhappiness.
On the contrary, a study conducted by developmental psychologist Clare Mehta and her peers suggests that this period of life is actually the happiest period of life. Certainly, people are vastly overwhelmed by the pressure of everyday life, but despite the complexity of life at this time, people report an increased sense of satisfaction.
It’s quite likely that people around age 36 have found their place in life. They are aware of their responsibilities—to their spouse, to their children, to their parents—and have been managing those challenges for a while.
Despite the immense difficulties and curveballs around this time of life, people in established adulthood have a more stable worldview and an understanding of their responsibilities, which, it would seem, is quite satisfying.
Additionally, these people have found their niche, an area of expertise to settle down in. For many, they have found the person with whom they want to spend the rest of their life, and they are well established in their workspace.
The relative stability of this period of life—even in the face of a myriad of demanding obstacles—proves to make 36 the perfect age for happiness.
A conflicting study conducted by the University of California-San Diego suggests the opposite; in fact, 35 was reported to be the least happy age, among a sampling of over 1500 adults aged 21 to 99.
The reasoning for this finding was that the 20s and 30s are the time period where a newly fledged adult is thrust into the real world, posing a difficult transition period including romantic ups and downs, career pressure, and other boring adulting stuff.
The study suggested that the wonderful age of 58 is the sweet spot where the wisdom gained over the years translates to increased self-acceptance, emotional stability, and an overall contentment with life.
The secret to their success? Learning to let some things go. While the late 50s come with some physical ailments of aging, it seems that true happiness comes from learning to accept the things that we simply cannot change.