Happiness and Age

The Journal of Positive Psychology recently published the results of a multi-year study of 818 people between the ages of 18 and 94 into the origins of life satisfaction throughout adulthood. The research team’s findings indicated that:

  • The key components of successful aging are not cognitive or physical functioning (older people tend to rate their happiness as high or higher than young people, in spite of medical concerns)
  • Self-reported health is not a key predictor of satisfaction
  • Knowledge, skills and experience required in life are not significantly associated with satisfaction
  • The capacity to reason abstractly and draw inferences was a key predictor of satisfaction in younger and middle-aged adults (intelligence is highly valued when one is still in the workforce)
  • Things that dissatisfy us the most remain constant

Lead author Karen Siedlecki, a post-doctoral research fellow in the cognitive neuroscience division at Columbia University, stated that, "The really key components of successful aging may be how happy you are
and how satisfied you are with your life, and these factors don’t tend
to decline with age.”