Tuesday, June 1st, 2010...5:03 pm

#150: Wait, Go Ahead, Maybe You Should Act Even Older….

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It’s been a long time since the HNTAO News merited two posts in one day, but I wanted to draw special attention to the new Gallup poll that claims happiness declines from the 20s to the early 50s, when it does a quick reverse and starts climbing again. From 50 on, according to the new study, almost everything gets better for everybody in every way.

Eighty-year-olds feel more satisfied with themselves than 18-year-olds, says the study of 340,000 people across the country. Worry and sadness peak around 50 and then taper off, while enjoyment is at its nadir when we’re in our early 50s before it begins to rise and keeps rising for at least 25 years.

What’s so bad about 50 compared with 75? Researchers don’t know. Neither gender, marital status, employment, or parenthood made any difference to the happiness levels; age seemed to be the only significant factor.

But I can hazard some guesses. By 50, not matter what you’ve been doing for the past two or three decades, you’re just freaking exhausted. Building a career, finding a spouse, maybe finding another spouse, having a couple of babies, getting a mortgage and renovating a kitchen, doing approximately 11,000 loads of laundry and preparing 24,000 meals, gaining 55 pounds and losing only 23 of them in five diets, planning 27 summer vacations that, 24 of those times, don’t really turn out to be very much fun — it takes a lot out of a person.

Plus, by 50, it’s pretty clear that a lot of those big dreams you had at 22 aren’t really going to work out. You are probably definitely never going to become a movie star or a drummer in a famous rock band, never going to make a million dollars a year or marry someone royal. You’ve had all the children you’re going to have and while they’re wonderful, they also have, you know, buck teeth or ADD or a nasty temper. And please, let’s not even talk about how your thighs look in a bathing suit.

And then — remember, just guessing now — you say: Fuck it. I’m still here. I like how I spend my days. I’ve got some good friends and I still have sex once in a while. And now I know: a glass of white wine, a piece of warm cherry pie, a funny sitcom and a bed with that soft pillow I really love — this is happiness. This is it, and it’s all mine.

To make the most of your next quarter century, check out The Happiness Project. And to make me even happier, go visit the denizens of Ho Springs.

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