May 10, 2008
The Valley of Happiness
The May issue of Atlantic Monthly cites a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research which suggests that happiness and psychological well-being decrease as we approach our late 40s, after which we become happier again. Life apparently is a big U-shaped valley of joy.
500,000 Americans and Europeans were selected for the study, which was published in January 2007. According to the results, American men are least happy at age 49, American women at 45. Maybe AARP should change their slogan to "Happiness Begins at 50."
By the way, Europeans are getting progressively happier while Americans are becoming less happy (is it all dependent on currency exchange rates, or just that they don't have King George leading their countries?).
As a 45-year-old American male, I thought about the downward slope of the next four years and decided that if I am entering the shadow of the valley of happiness, pastures are nevertheless rather green and my cup still runneth at least half-full.
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