Wait a second before you buy that "over the hill" cake for your buddy's 40th birthday: Research shows that satisfaction and optimism actually increase after we reach middle age, and peak as late as our 80s. Why? Responsibilities ease, maturity increases, and we are often able to focus on doing the things we enjoy. Of course, it helps to be in good health, have a stable income, and enjoy good relationships with friends and family when we hit old age, the Telegraph notes.
Most people are "averagely happy" in their teens and twenties, but that declines as they start supporting a family and working at a career, says Lewis Wolpert, who wrote about the research findings in a new book, You're Looking Very Well. But then, he says, "from the mid-40s, people tend to become ever more cheerful and optimistic." One survey of 341,000 people found that life enjoyment started rising in the late 40s, and peaked at age 85. (Click here to meet America's "happiest person"—who is age 69...)