Happiness, good health, and wealth are often partners — which is just one reason economists, physicians, and statistician study happiness.
But pursuing happiness is different from having it. According to investigators from the University of Warwick in England and Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. the road likely to get rocky in midlife — whatever your circumstances and where vet you live.
The sample of humanity in their study (in Social Science & Medicine) was enormous —2 million people from 80 nations. Information was called from several huge surveys including the U.S. General Social Surveys, the Euro barometers, and the World Values Surveys, and analysed. Participants answered such questions as “Taken all together, how would you say things are these days?” And “Do you feel constantly under strain?” And “Do you think of yourself as worthless?” Pertinent tacts, such as age, health, housing, income and education levels, marital status, and employment, were also recorded.
Amazingly enough, all over the world, from Bangladesh to Sweden ‘oChile, midlife isa hassle.The probability of depression peaks in midlife, and happiness reaches a low point. In the U.S. this typically happens to women at about age 40 and to men at about 50. In Europe and Asia, happiness shrinks for both sexes in their forties and fifties. People move gradually into this downswing, then seem to slowly climb back out as life goes on all things being equal. People in their sixties and seventies, if healthy physically, tend to be as happy as young people.
Though people’s fortunes and experiences vary greatly, what’s surprising is the similar pattern over the life cycle. “Some people suffer more than others, but in our data the average effect is large,” the researchers concluded.
“It happens to men and women, to single and married people, to those with and Nithout children. Nobody knows why we see this consistency.
How to people climb out of the slump? Maybe we learn to adapt. Maybe in midlife we give up dreams we know we can neverfulfil. Or, maybe it’s just that the cheerful and sturdy live long enough to answer questions when they are 70. Older people may start counting their blessings. (The researchers do admit that some evidence exists for another downturn Ioward the end of life.) Well-being may thus be a “U-shaped curve over the life cycle.” If this is a universal principal and common to humanity, the idea might help us get past the hard parts.