Does U-shaped happiness? Some theories about it

Does U-shaped happiness? Some theories about it

Recently we talked in Psychoactive about the relationship between age and happiness and we were struck by the data revealed by the study carried out by the National Statistics Office (ONS) of the United Kingdom and published in Medical Daily. These data, widely commented around the world, indicated that the experimentation of happiness throughout our lives had a clear form, specifically a "U" shape. that was repeated over and over again in different people.


  • 1 The happiness curve
  • 2 The other psychological theories of happiness
  • 3 Towards a consensus between theories

The happiness curve

The ONS economists interviewed hundreds of participants from different countries and compared their level of happiness through surveys that analyzed key aspects such as their jobs, families, social life or partners, among other factors. After analyzing the statistical results, the researchers were surprised at this interesting pattern they had found.

According to this data, surprisingly people experience our greater happiness in two important points of our lives: around 20 years and from 69, while we notice a decline in our levels of happiness between 40 and 50 years.

These results were repeated among men and women in other high-income countries, although not in other parts of the world, which tells us how socioeconomic characteristics cultures and the different demands of these contexts influence when it comes to finding our sense of well-being.

Although economists indicate that there are personal exceptions, the clarity of these statistical results taken through the data of 23,000 people shows how the older we get, the greater the feeling of happiness we experience. This seems to be because the problems of adulthood remain in the background. Labor, economic and family demands, such as educating young children or dealing with an unsatisfactory boss or job, no longer influence our day to day and people, from the age of 69 they experience a greater sense of tranquility and freedom, as well as more desire to live the moment.

However, the curve shows a decline as we go deeper and deeper into adult life, at its lowest point. between 40-50 years, a stage in which the vital obligations and concerns seem to be greater. During the 20 years, however, there is the first bliss of happiness, probably due to high expectations about entry into adulthood and a lack of concern about the responsibilities, uncertainties and problems that we could later find.

The other psychological theories of happiness

Despite the evidence of the results of this study, it seems that the research community does not agree on the certainty of what are the necessary factors for high happiness in people. In addition to this study, other surveys have stated that the age at which we experience greater happiness is at 33 years, a stage in which people have greater maturity to manage their emotions and achieve more personal and work successes.

In addition, the field of psychology It usually relates the feeling of happiness with a multiplicity of factors that interact with each other, rather than with a closed stage line. Causes like a healthy social life, a good one physical and psychological health and the economic tranquility they are keys to experiencing this sensation so desired throughout the history of mankind, a feeling of fullness and well-being extended in time that has little to do with a specific emotion.

Towards a consensus between theories

It is clear that finding happiness is a sensation that can be quite subjective among people and that depends a lot on the expectations we create throughout our vital history. However, the ways in which different societies and economies work show their influence on the emotions of individuals clearly in this study.

The demands and obligations that the system imposes on people can generate tendencies to stress and the anxiety which are reflected in different negative emotional states and even psychological disorders. This, which for many people is difficult to manage, could be mitigated to some extent with a good psychological and emotional education that would allow us handle frustration and the stress to get this curve to become a straight or even ascending line of positive emotions.

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