General Article Do we really have to wait until we are 82 to find peak happiness?

Topic Selected: Ageing Book Volume: 378

By Helen Mead

As you grow older, it is tempting to think that you have left your happiest days behind.

The carefree days of your youth, when anything seemed possible, are worlds away, never to be relived.

Back then you had none of the restrictive trappings of later life - a mortgage, a job, others to provide for. And, most probably, you were fit and well. You had the rest of your life ahead.

I look back on my late teens and early twenties as the happiest years of my life so far, when I was a student, surrounded by friends and every day was fun and full of laughs.

But my happiest days could be yet to come - and a long way off. Experts say that our feelings of joy and contentment don’t peak until the age of 82.

Leading neuroscientist Daniel Levitin says that older generations are much more cheerful than younger ones. The expert states that World Health Organisation data from 60 countries show that happiness grows with age.

He could be right. We tend to look at the past through rose co...

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