I like to think of myself as happy. Satisfied with my life.
Oh sure, when my youngest had a tantrum because I didn’t do her hair quite like Elsa’s this morning I felt like things were rapidly headed downhill. But they vastly improved when my six-year old challenged me to a ‘kissing fight’ before I dropped him off at school.
With three kids, a busy job and a hectic life, I would say I am satisfied. Happy. Things are good. Aren’t they?
So I was surprised to read that, in fact, if researchers are correct, I am kinda in the middle of a slow and steady decline in my life satisfaction.
In fact if researchers are correct, a life like mine with young kids and being aged in between your 30’s and your 50’s is pretty shit.
A study out today has pinpointed the happiest age of all, and here’s a hint – it isn’t when you have young kids.
In narrowing down the age you will be the happiest they examined different life periods. They found our happiness is on the up just after we move out of home, just after we get married and when we are pregnant.
As soon as we pop out our babies though – according to this study - life starts to plunge, and plunge and plunge up until the kids hit the age of six.
(That’s when they start school right? Interesting coincidence.)
Our life satisfaction just keeps on staying rotten until we hit our 50s – and we are then headed on the path to total satisfaction – in about 30 or so years on, when we reach the age that we will be the most satisfied with life ever.
The golden old age of 80.
Now before we all totally debunk their hard work with our tales of just how happy we are right now in the midst of baby-dom. Cause we are aren't we?
(Think happy thoughts think happy thoughts.)
Lets look at what it says:
The research, released by the Australian Institute of Family Studies examined just how satisfied Australians are with life.
Not surprisingly, big events such as leaving home, getting married and having a baby are all marked by an increase right before the big event of satisfaction.
- It found that from 15 to around your early 20s your life satisfaction goes downhill sharply.
- It then gradually declines from your early 20s to mid-30s.
- It’s stable but at a lower level from your mid-30s to your 50s, in fact this is the period of your lowest life satisfaction.
- But don’t despair because then from your early 50s until your late 60s it both steadily and substantially improves, remaining steady and high from your 60s to the your early 80s. You might have imagined that hitting 80 was all about cholesterol lowering medication and blood thinners. But it turns out that it’s actually your peak.
The findings though, showed that you are probably feeling a little more satisfied with life than your partner (or ex partner) as from the age of 20 through to your mid-50s. Women are, on average, more satisfied with their life than men.
The researchers also looked at various life events and how they impacted people’s sense of happiness. Some life events such as getting married obviously increased our satisfaction, while others like divorce decreased our satisfaction.
Leaving home does not lead to any immediate change in life satisfaction, but it may help arrest a decline in life satisfaction, especially for women.
Moving in with a partner.
This makes us happy. Beginning to live with a partner was linked with a marked and then sustained increase in life satisfaction for both men and women.
Researchers found that having a baby was linked to a rise in life satisfaction prior to the birth.
WATCH this couple about to have their life satisfaction levels lift as they find out they are expecting a baby. Post continues after video...
But it doesn’t last. It showed a decline in life satisfaction after the birth for both men and women and then from then on in it kinda just goes down.
The researchers found though, that while life satisfaction increased for both genders in the year prior to having a baby and was highest in the year immediately prior to having a child, the pattern was stronger for women than men. Following the birth of a child, the life satisfaction of women declined a little in the first year and then sharply in the second year. Among men, there was little noticeable change in life satisfaction in the year immediately following the birth.
In all except the sixth year after the birth of a child, the life satisfaction of men and women declined steadily.
Separation from a live-in relationship.
Relationship separation was linked with a sharp decline in life satisfaction among both men and women.
Becoming empty nesters.
There was a small increase in life satisfaction in the years following the commencement of the empty nest stage but by this stage you are on the up anyway.
Retirement makes us pretty happy – again you are in the period of your life when things are going up anyway.
The big one. This is it, life peaks with our satisfaction levels and doesn't really drop off too much after that.
Turns out we have a lot left to look forward to after all, the golden age really will be golden.
What do you think? Does this research ring true for you?