The Happiest Age, And The Factor That Matters Most

happier-family-science-102514I receive a daily digest highlighting new research on happiness, and I’m not going to lie—sometimes, my eyes roll pretty far back in my head while I’m scanning through them. Having basic needs met makes you happier? You don’t say! Having more control over your own choices increases feelings of esteem? How unexpected! But every now and then a piece of research comes through that just stops me in my tracks while I ponder it.

This past week, the results of a survey in Britain concluded that people are happiest at age 58, presumably, it is concluded, because this is when our best work-life balance is achieved. I found this fascinating, and weirdly specific, but it makes sense—it’s young enough to not be old/sick and/or retired and bored, but old enough that probably the daily stressors of child-raising or even just caring about what other people think are either over and greatly diminished. I can dig it.

This, however, was not the piece of information from this study that I found the most interesting. Nope, the best part was this:

The biggest key to contentment was spending time with family, according to almost two-thirds (63%) of those who took part[.]

So all of those family-themed posts we’ve been bringing you this week? It’s not just for fun (although I hope you found it fun). It’s because family plays a huge role in our level of happiness, no matter what our age. And we’re not talking textbook-definition family, either—no need to have a specific structure mirrored in a Norman Rockwell painting, or anything; this is about spending time with the people you live with and love the best. That’s it.

Sure, family may sometimes drive us nuts, but they’re also the most important factor in making us happier. That’s a big deal.

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