Chris Wilkinson column: Where are you on the Happiness U-Curve?

With age and maturity, the focus turns away from social competition and toward social connection.

By Chris Wilkinson

Happier Aging. That’s what my column is about each and every month. Typically I write about things that contribute to happiness. This time it is directly on happiness. And isn’t it interesting that science has studied and confirmed the pattern that human happiness follows as we age? It’s called the Happiness U-Curve based on what it looks like on a graph.

What years of surveys and research on happiness levels as we age has shown is that happiness levels are higher when we’re younger (teens and early 20s), dips significantly during middle age (30s and 40s), and increases again after the age of 50 or so. This pattern holds true around the globe. Although life satisfaction drops during midlife, it begins to recover around age 50, and reaches its peak after ages 65-70. Which may make sense with retirement age.

Although this is the Happiness U-curve that represents all of us as a society, it doesn’t mean that this pattern must correlate with your happiness. Happiness is based approximately 50 per cent on genetic factors, and 50 per cent on your own decisions and mindset — which are controllable. So even if it’s natural to see a downward trend, and it’s likely to affect pretty much everyone, it isn’t mandatory or necessary.

With age and maturity, the focus turns away from social competition and toward social connection. And it makes great sense that happiness/life satisfaction scores would increase with more social connection, as the single most important factor in happiness levels is surrounding ourselves with people we love and who love us. The 80-year, ongoing longitudinal study, the Harvard Adult Development Study, has proven that. And it has also proven that human connection/quality relationships has great impact on our health too. The study’s previous director, Robert Waldinger, has repeatedly stated that the people who were the most satisfied in their relationships at age 50 were also the healthiest at age 80. This study has revealed that close relationships, more than money or fame, are what keep people happy throughout their lives.

Outside of healthy relationships with those around us, the other most important practice to ensure happiness and contentment through life is to practice daily gratitude. Express (even to yourself in your mind) what you are thankful for, every day. A gratitude journal can be a great way to cultivate this habit.

That’s your roadmap for increased happiness over a lifetime. Happier Aging, as it turns out. And isn’t it funny that the Happiness U-Curve is in the shape of a smile.

Chris Wilkinson is the owner/GM for Nurse Next Door Home Care Services for Cowichan and central Vancouver Island. For more info visit www.NurseNextDoor.com or for questions or a free in-home Caring Consult call 250-748-4357, or email Chris.Wilkinson@NurseNextDoor.com

Just Posted

Pilot program to help Cowichan seniors age in place

Seniors Foundation partnering with B.C. tech company Hibou

Green leader Elizabeth May makes campaign stop in Duncan

Says she’s confident voters looking for Green alternative

Coming up in Cowichan: Special service at Cobble Hill cenotaph Saturday

Malahat Legion hosting special service at Cobble Hill cenotaph The Royal Canadian… Continue reading

Zivanai Masango opens new performance space at Little Zimbabwe Farm in Cowichan

Exciting African singer/ songwriter is the first to play the new studio at Cowichan Lake Road farm

Carter family continues tradition of making musical memories in Cowichan

On Saturday the Alf Carter Band, will be providing the entertainment at the Eagles Hall in Duncan.

VIDEO: First all-female spacewalk team makes history

NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir did work on International Space Station’s power grid

Zantac, the over-the-counter heartburn drug, pulled in Canada, U.S.

Health Canada also investigates possible carcinogen in some ranitidine drugs

B.C. public safety minister says cannabis edibles not in stores til January

Mike Farnworth says he wants regional issues considered when it comes to licensing

Greta Thunberg calls for climate action in Alberta, but doesn’t talk oilsands

Swedish teen was met with some oil and gas industry supporters who came in a truck convoy

Scheer denies spreading ‘misinformation’ in predicting unannounced Liberal taxes

Conservative leader had claimed that a potential NDP-Liberal coalition could lead to a hike in GST

Council asks to limit cruise ship visits to Victoria harbour

Mayor says motion is not meant to curtail current visits or limit local cruise industry expansion

Chilliwack man pleads guilty in crash that killed pregnant woman

Frank Tessman charged under Motor Vehicle Act for accident that killed Kelowna school teacher

Kawhi Leonard, former Toronto Raptor, welcomed back to Vancouver at pre-season game

Fans go wild at pre-season game between L.A. Clippers and Dallas Mavericks at Rogers Arena

Greens and NDP go head to head on West Coast; Scheer takes fight to Bernier

Trudeau turns focus to key ridings outside Toronto after two days in Quebec

Most Read