Ah! Some good news for baby boomers as we age. The Brookings Institute looked at the relationship between age and happiness around the world (as measured by a 2011-2013 Gallup World Poll). According to a Washington Post article, the low point in the U.S. for happiness is roughly around the age of forty-seven. From then on it looks like things get better as we age (as long as we are reasonably healthy for our age and we are in a stable partnership). The poll shows that this is true across many countries in the world.
It’s interesting that from about sixty-five to ninety-five the happiness curve increases greatly for most countries. Is this because of retirement? social security? children grown up and out of the house? In a country like China where the curve really jumps after age fifty-five maybe it’s because older people are more revered. In fact, in 2013, China’s National People’s Congress passed a law stating that “family members who live separately from the elderly should visit them often”. The law requires that employers should help make this possible. An interesting idea, but I am not sure how it would go over in this country. Even in China, the law is drawing criticism for too much government interference as well as putting too much pressure on already over-stressed families.
All I know is, it’s great to see that happiness increases as we age. Let’s face it, as they say, growing old is not for wimps. Contending with wrinkles, decreased physicality, aches and pains is not always fun. But as the “sex, drugs and rock and roll generation”, we baby boomers like to have our fun without letting a little thing like “aging” getting in our way. As a favorite author, Anne Lamott, says:
“Oh my God, what if you wake up some day, and you’re 65, or 75, and you never got your memoir or novel written; or you didn’t go swimming in warm pools and oceans all those years because your thighs were jiggly and you had a nice big comfortable tummy; or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative life, of imagination and radical silliness and staring off into space like when you were a kid? It’s going to break your heart. Don’t let this happen.”
Or, maybe, Parrell has it exactly right: