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Happiness: A Gift of Age

One of the great joys of parenting, for me, has been watching my kids play. From infancy right up to today, they give themselves to joy with a simple purity that lights up everything around them. I think I’m learning to be happy by watching them.

I’m heading back towards that childlike happiness as I age science says. The New York Times reports on a study that suggests happiness comes with age. As people get older, they become happier with their own lives, and more cheerful about the state of the world overall.

Why? The research team that conducted this study don’t really know. Andrew Oswald, a scientist at Warwick Business School in England who has extensively studied human happiness, told the Times:

“It’s not being driven predominantly by things that happen in life. It’s something very deep and quite human that seems to be driving this.”

The study showed what most of us know: at 18 we’re pretty full of ourselves, and then we feel lousier and lousier throughout our 20s as adulthood sets in.

I was surprised to learn that the trend doesn’t reverse at 30. My 30th birthday was a watershed of self-confidence and self-awareness. I shrugged off a lot of habits and scripts about what I “should” do, and started enjoying what I wanted to do. Life’s been pretty awesome since then.

And apparently only going to get better. Overall, people get happier, less angry, sad or worried, and more content with life heading all the way to age 85.

How about you? Are you getting happier as you age, or have your brightest moments already passed you by?

Photo: Sabrina Campagna

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