Do You Fit Into This U-Curve of Happiness?

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The Myth:  The story is that older folks are unhappy.  Where do you fit in the U-Curve of Happiness?

The Truth:  People are happier in the beginning and the end of their lives than any other time.

A Study:  A study in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, which focused on a sampling of people ages 21 to 99 in San Diego, found that people in their 20s and 30s had the highest levels of anxiety, depression and stress, while people in later generations had higher levels of happiness.

A Gallup Poll and Another Study:  A 2008 Gallup poll of 340,000 Americans aged 18 to 85 as well as a three-decade University of Chicago study.

Interesting:  Ups and downs corresponded with good and bad economic times.  But those differences faded as people aged!
Gender, personality, and external circumstances also contribute, but less than you might think.  Younger people think happiness occurs because of things, “but when they’re older, people know that happiness occurs in spite of things,” Cornell U. Karl Pillemer, a gerontologist at Cornell Medical College.
Is It Sacred?:  “The finding that we can expect to be happier in our early eighties than in our twenties is driven “not predominately by things that happen in life (but by) something very deep and quite human.”  Andrew J. Oswald, University of Warwick.
Putting All These Stats Aside:  Where am I that I am in my 70s?  Am I happy or am I contented?  Maybe it’s semantics.

 I’m sitting here going through my mind as to when I was “happy”.

  • As a child playing house with my dollies in the park in Jersey City.
  • My first love when a teenager.
  • The birth of my first son Tim when I was 20.
  • Falling in love (after my divorce), age 33.
  • Moving to Durango with friends to create Heartwood Cohousing.
  • Discovering the “high country” of my Colorado mountains.
  • Being with my llamas hiking or on overnights in the mountains.

These were specific times when I experienced happiness – when my heart filled with joy and delight in being alive.

When I think of the U-Curve of Happiness, I think more of contentment, satisfaction, having purpose – as a mother, a partner, an entrepreneur, a friend – a creator of possibilities.

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As you’ve gotten older, do you fit into the U-Curve of Happiness as shown? Do you have a distinction between happiness and contentment?