The U-Curve of Happiness

The U-Curve of Happiness and Aging

There is no way to happiness, happiness is the way.

~Wayne Dyer

On Aging and Happiness

My friend and Colleague, Rama Ramasubramanian (Health e-Bytes) sent several articles on Happiness he encountered online. This is a topic we often discuss in one form or another and reading what others have to say on the subject interests us.

There is a robust body of research on getting older and happiness confirming yet another paradox of aging. Studies show that happiness peaks in your 20s, dips at middle age, and then begins to ascend once again after 50. When translated to a graph it appears in a “U” shape and has thus been dubbed the “U-Curve” of Happiness.

An informative piece written by Meg Selig in Psychology Today unpacks several key elements to Happiness in old age:

  1. Older Adults no longer require extraordinary experiences to be happy, rather they find happiness in ordinary things (aka mindfulness)
  2. Meaningful relationships (authentic) are another source of happiness
  3. Volunteering seems to be a common meme in the development of a happy old age
  4. Purpose beyond the self is another

My response to Rama did contain several of these:

The Wippman piece in the NYTs did mention the key word (once) and what immediately came to mind as I read the title of the article; “byproduct.” I recall the times in my life when I’ve been most imbued with happiness:

~Being fully present with friends, family, and loved ones

~Alone in nature

~Working with others towards a worthy goal

~Deep conversation and masterminding


~Exercising (riding my single speed bike for example)

~Time with my dog


~Just to mention a few…They all seem to be verbs, so there is some consistent elements of action in my definition of happiness.

Happiness has been called a serious problem, and the pursuit of it is written into our very constitution making it an obsession in our country. Like most things in our capitalist society happiness has been poisoned by subjugating it to commodity status (the author purchased an app to find it).

Happiness to me seems to be a byproduct of serving, loving, kindness, self-expression, and contribution. Again, all acts…

And as many spiritual teachers have noted, it’s a choice.

What leads to your happiness as you age? It’s a subject worth contemplating and discussing with others…



Further, colleague Dr. Martin Hyde, Professor of Gerontology recently shed light on the nature of retirement and work. In his interview for elder, he brought up “good” and “bad” work elements for an aging workforce. My Takeaway 1) Good work = Cognitively stimulating + Degree of control/choice + Elements of joy makes for potential to add to Longevity/compressed Morbidly 2) Bad Work does the opposite; bottom line the kind of work matters, not just work…

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