The Age of Contentment: Happiness in Later Life

At what age does our happiness peak?

Conventional wisdom suggests that when we are young – at the peak of our physical and mental abilities and with our lives ahead of us – we are the happiest we are ever going to be.

Research has shown that while young adulthood is a time of hope, excitement and idealism, it is not true that ageing leads to a decline in happiness.

A study across the adult life span by Susan Charles, Professor and Chair of Psychological Science at the University of California, Irvine, and USC Dornsife Professor of Psychology Margaret Gatz has showed that that life satisfaction follows more of a U-shaped pattern, with levels of happiness starting high in our 20s and 30s, taking a dip in mid-life, then rising again after mid-life, so that people in their mid-sixties may be as satisfied with life as younger people in their twenties.

Why would this be so?

One theory is that reaching your sixties and beyond brings additional maturity and contentment – an ability to appreciate the simple pleasures of life and the things that are not determined by status, wealth or looks such as family, friendships, hobbies and lifelong interests.

As we get older, we look inward for our happiness and security rather than relying on external factors.

Reaching your sixties, seventies and eighties can also produce feelings of happiness and contentment as you reap the rewards of a well-lived life – a loving family, circle of close friends, financial security, and intellectual or creative success.

While factors including genetic makeup, environment and life history contribute to our ‘set point’ of happiness, there any many habits and behaviors we can cultivate to create and maintain happiness in our later years.

Eight Ways to Be Positive and Happy in Later Life

  1. Drink in Moderation. The effects of excessive alcohol on the mind and body are well-documented. Alcoholism can have a devastating effect on relationships, stability, education and work. It also jeopardises the chances of making old bones.
  2. Look after yourself – get plenty of sleep, stay out of the sun and see a doctor regularly. Eat well and exercise – this will boost your sense of well-being and allow you to remain mobile and active in your later years.
  3. Don’t smoke or take drugs. The body keeps the score – and unless you are extremely lucky, you won’t live to be old if you abuse your body and brain with nicotine and other toxins.
  4. Keep your brain active through ongoing education, reading and other intellectual interests. These can be formal or informal. An active, interested mind is a great asset to take into old age and there is evidence to suggest it can provide some protection against neurological degeneration such ass dementia and Alzheimer’s.
  5. Keep your friends close – and your family closer. Stable, supportive relationships, play perhaps the most important role in our lives. People who can grow, change, and experience life’s ups and downs with you are to be cherished and these connections nurtured.
  6. Be a work in progress. What does this mean? Think of yourself as a lifelong self-improvement project – one that only ends when you die. Invest in your inner life, spirituality and creativity. Keep an open mind, seek to help others and be a part of a community.
  7. Stay social, whatever your living situation may be. Interacting with other people is a great way to maintain your mental health. Join a group, stay in touch with family and friends, volunteer, learn a new skill or hobby, and seek out differing viewpoints and opinions from people across a range of ages and walks of life.


And finally -be open to change, whatever form it takes.

Are you planning to make the transition to aged care, a smaller home, or to a retirement facility?

Don’t let the stress and worry of a move get the better of you.

At Blue Lighthouse Relocations, we make moving house simple and stress free.

We plan. We pack. We move. We unpack. We set up!

As an established and growing provider of moving and relocation services throughout south-east Queensland, we offer services to suit a wide range of needs:


Our initial consultation to determine your needs is completely free of charge.

Get in touch today – we look forward to helping you.

Call us on 1300 158 432.

Email our friendly relocations team on

Visit our website and send us a free quote request.