Ironic: Happiness As We Age is Shaped Like a Smile

If we were to chart happiness as we age, at first thought we might expect to see a long, downward slide. After all, aging brings losses, small and big, which can feel like an increasing drag on our mood. However, surprisingly, recent research shows that people over 80 are the happiest of all, making the chart shape more like a smile.

At what point does the dip typically begin? In a recent article, author and researcher Daniel Pink was quoted as finding a dip in overall happiness in our early 50s. The cause is still undetermined, but Pink has a hypothesis that age 50 is where we begin to believe there might not be a second chance to achieve still unrealized dreams. His solution? The Warren Buffett 5/25 method. Make a list of the 25 dreams you still have not realized. Rank them, and eliminate the bottom 20. Focus on the top 5, and once you achieve those, repeat the exercise.

(For more, find Pink’s article on how to handle the mid-life blues at: https://www.marketwatch.com/story/feeling-blue-in-midlife-how-to-reinvent-yourself-at-any-age-2019-01-25)

Further, more good news is that John Leland, in his recently published book, Happiness Is a Choice You Make: Lessons From the Oldest Old, helped confirm research that older people reported being happier. What makes for more happiness in advanced age? A positive attitude, focusing on what you still have rather than dwelling on losses.

How is Happiness Connected to Money?

So, you might wonder, what does happiness have to do with finances? Happier people live healthier lives. If less money is going for doctor visits and prescriptions, that’s more money to do what you love most, or share with those you love most. Doing what you love and sharing with those you love leads to even more happiness. It’s an upward spiral.

For some people, figuring out what they love most is the challenge. That’s why chapters 2 and 3 of The Mindful Money Mentality: How to Find Balance in Your Financial Future were written. Check it out for more thoughts on making the most of midlife and beyond.

Holly Donaldson

Holly Donaldson, CFP® runs an hourly and fee-for-service financial planning practice virtually from her Tampa Bay, Florida office. She also works with clients throughout the U.S. (except Texas) interested in retirement and tax planning advice without product sales or investment management. Holly is the author of The Mindful Money Mentality: How to Find Balance in Your Financial Future (Porchview Publishing, 2013) and publisher of the award-winning monthly e-letter, "The View From the Porch."

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