Your 50s Are Likely to Be the Most Unfortunate Times of Your Life.

Everyone’s life is full of ups and downs, but new research shows that everyone’s life follows a certain pattern when it comes to our overall satisfaction. Around the middle of our lives, we all seem to be pretty upset.

According to a new analysis of life satisfaction from the National Bureau of Economic Research , which includes seven mass surveys and 1.3 million randomly selected people from 51 countries, the bottom for most people is somewhere in the 50s. On the other hand, people report that after retirement they are quite happy in their 20s and 60s. Overall, our lives seem to follow a certain parabola of satisfaction (The Washington Post has a great chart you can check out ).

Interestingly, not all surveys used the same structure, when people in different parts of the Western world were asked questions about how they felt at different points in their lives – some were asked for an assessment of overall satisfaction, others were asked in terms of happiness or unhappiness. – but they all followed roughly the same U-pattern. Life starts out great, sometime between the ages of 40 and 50 it gets worse and then gets better again. The concept of the “U-shaped happiness curve” is not new, and it is something that has even been observed in monkeys , but this new analysis shows how consistent this curve is across a wide variety of data sources.

Why is our 50 the lowest point? On the one hand, researchers note that middle-aged people are often at the peak of their careers, which causes a lot of stress. On the other hand, people are at the point where they feel they should be at the peak of their careers, but they are not even close to that. Plus, by your 40s and 50s, parents have kids to worry about. The often joked “midlife crisis” seems to be a reaction to a very real low point.

If you want to mitigate the effects of this seemingly natural happiness curve throughout your life, here are some tips:

  • Manage Your “Quarter Life Crisis” : By the late 1920s and early 1930s, people’s satisfaction seems to be plummeting. This is what some experts call the “quarter life crisis.” There are several things you can do to overcome this .
  • Know what happiness you can buy : money cannot buy love (emotional love, anyway), but money can buy you some happiness if you spend it right . Buying experiences like fun trips, investing in your financial security, and spending money on others can give you a lasting boost.
  • Find out what happiness is by understanding what it is not : only you can truly define what is true satisfaction for you, but there are some things that experts believe it is not . For example, happiness isn’t always associated with positive, pleasant feelings; or never have negative emotions.
  • Don’t try so hard : Research shows that the harder you seek happiness, the less likely you are to find it . This is how you set yourself up for failure and disappointment. In the past, I have described happiness as “a feather slowly descending from above. If you reach out to try to catch it, the feather will fly away. But if you look at it and let it fall into your hand, you can finally grab it. “
  • Have Friends : Not only does isolation make you unhappy, it makes you very unhealthy – and it makes you even more unhappy. It is very important to have close relationships throughout your life.

Remember, wherever you are, more happiness doesn’t necessarily mean a better life. Your overall well-being is about more than how happy you feel all the time. You need the bad in order to have the good, and lasting happiness is what you build within yourself by showing gratitude for the big and small things in life.


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