People are at their happiest at retirement age and their most miserable in their geriatric years, a recent Queensland study found.
The study into the ‘happiness wave’, conducted by Dr Tony Beatton of Queensland University of Technology and Professor Paul Frijters of The University of Queensland, revealed how happiness changes over a lifetime for people living in Australia, Germany and Britain.
The same study also debunked the idea of the middle-age blues, blaming an over-representation of unhappy respondents in previous surveys.
Collecting data from more than 60,000 people in Australia, Britain and Germany, the pair found people were happiest as they entered retirement age (55 to 75), and most miserable close to death (80 to 90) – which, let’s face it, is not that surprising.
For a representative 18-year-old with a happiness level of 7 on a 10-point scale, the peak happiness age was found to be 65 in Australia, reaching 7.3, compared with Britain (7.2 at aged 70), and Germany (7 at 65). So we are a happy lot – happier than the Brits, and happier for longer than the Germans, which again is not overly surprising.
The academic’s interpretation of the findings was that individuals over 55 no longer had unrealistic expectations of what their life will be like and simply enjoy their reasonable health and wealth, leading to a marked surge in happiness.
But these findings, while interesting, were not the statistics I was looking for. I wanted to find a scientific study somewhere which showed that people in their 30s are the happiest. Alas, according to this research, if you are in your 30s you are probably at the unhappiest point of your life. When you consider small children, sleepless nights and often a fairly new mortgage, well, this is probably not far off the truth.
The reason I was searching for this information is that a friend asked me the other day where I would live if I could live anywhere in the world? Now this friend has recently returned to Brisbane after several years living in the Big Apple so her question is very valid. Indeed, when you have lived in one of the coolest cities in the world then such a question really does need to be asked.
I think it took me less than one second before I said I would live where I live now. Yep, right here in Brisbane. In hindsight, I think I was even surprised by my statement. I said I’m happy where I am both metaphorically and physically. I love the location, the people, my friends, my job, the cafes, the views, and my new apartment that is 1/10th of the way to being completed (I do regular drive-bys to keep an eye on the developer, you see).
I am happy with my life and really wouldn’t want to change a thing. Not even if I got the chance to live in New York, New Caledonia or, dare I say it, the country of my birth, New Zealand. Nope, I’m happy where I am, and I suppose I don’t really need a scientific study to back me up on that.