Peak happiness arrives at 60 study finds

Happy elderly couple - Ruslan Huzau/Shutterstock

At what age are we the most happy? Of course, the answer to this question is subjective, as every human life has its own unique set of ups and downs that together form the people we are. However, results of an 80-year-long Harvard University study suggest that the pinnacle of human happiness and satisfaction arrives, on average, around the age of 60.

Longest Happiness Study in History

The Harvard Study of Adult Development, whose results have been published in a book called The Good Life, is the longest scientific study of happiness and wellbeing in history. Beginning in 1938, the study has spanned multiple generations, tracking the lives of the children of the individual study’s participants for a holistic understanding of human happiness.

The study’s original cohort included 700 men from the United States. Now, researchers have begun to study the original cohort’s offspring, which are estimated to number around 2,000.

Happiest at 60? 

By 60, the study found, people tend to come to terms with the limits of their lives and the reality of their mortality in a way that can be comforting. By this age, most people have reached a point in their lives where they are no longer weighed down by undesirable obligations, such toxic relationships or friendships. Additionally, people aged 60 and older tend to have deep fears of loneliness as they approach late life. This leads them to seek out meaningful connections with an urgency their younger counterparts lack, and work harder to maintain the connections they do have.

Mid-Life Blues

On the other hand, the study indicated that the saddest point in a person’s life tends to come around the ages of 47 and 48. It’s at these ages that people report increased responsibilities and stress, as well as a tendency to self-scrutinise, judging harshly one’s own achievements in life thus far.

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Written by

Cole Sinanian