Where Are You on the Giant U of Lifetime Happiness?

By Gary Cutlack on at

The course of happiness over our lifetimes resembles a giant U-shaped graph, according to researchers, with our 20s seeing us happy and the 40s being the most miserable period -- before we get old, lower our expectations and start feeling OK again.

The good news is that as people pass through their underachieving forties they start to get happier again, as simply being alive each morning becomes something of a bonus and it stops mattering so much if everyone you work with secretly hates you because it's nearly pension and infinite free bus travel time.

The bad news is that middle aged sadness appears to be an unavoidable biological issue, one not related to your current lack of followers or dwindling career, with zookeepers suggesting that monkeys have also been observed suffering from some form of existential mid-life depression too.

Researchers suggest one "life hack" thing for quick happiness -- giving to charity. Buying a tent for those refugees or sending them a blanket might instantly boost happiness and lead to additional physical health benefits like lower blood pressure, the findings suggest, with psychology professor Elizabeth Dunn saying: "People who donate money to charity are happier in poor and rich countries alike. You don't have to have a lot to experience the emotional benefits of giving." [Reuters]

Image credit: Happy old man from Shutterstock