Our happiness in life goes in waves throughout the years, peaking when we're age 23, dipping down in the mid-50s, and peaking again when we're 69, according to a new study.
"People in their 50s could learn a little from the elderly, who generally feel less regret. They should try not to be frustrated with their unmet expectations because they are probably not feeling much worse than their peers," study researcher Dr. Hannes Schwandt, of Princeton University, said in a statement.
The study, which was published by the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics, also showed that people are pretty bad at estimating how happy they'll be in the future. Specifically, young adults tend to overestimate their future life satisfaction, while elderly people are more likely to underestimate their future life satisfaction.
"These findings show a striking age-associated bias in life satisfaction forecasts," the researchers write in the study. "The young strongly overestimate their future life satisfaction while the elderly tend to underestimate it."
Researchers noted that one reason for why the young may overestimate their future life satisfaction is because they may not realize how fast they'll adapt to things like income changes.
"Thus the observed age bias could be generated by the young expecting too much from anticipated income increases with the elderly, who face decreasing incomes, committing the opposite error," according to the study. "In the data, forecast errors indeed roughly match with the average income profile which is increasing during young adulthood and decreasing after age 50."
The findings are based on data from 23,161 people between ages 17 and 85 who were asked questions about their life satisfaction and their expectations for future life satisfaction.
What do you think about these findings? Do you remember being especially happy and optimistic about life at age 23? What about 69?