If happiness were as easy as a mathematic formula, we'd all be permanently grinning from ear-to-ear. Add a little of this, subtract a little of that, boom, bliss is yours for the taking. Have a nice life.
But that's not how it works. Happiness, and lack thereof, are one of life's great mysteries. (Just ask Pfizer.) It can't be broken down into a science, and it's not something that can really even be quantified. It's, unfortunately, much more elusive than that. So, I hate it when studies come out offering intel on things like "what age is the happiest of people's lives."
Especially when the age is mine.
According to Friends Reunited, a British website, the happiest age in people's lives is 33. Their research, which seems to be more of a poll per se, says that 70% of people over 40 picked 33 as the year they were happiest. Psychologist Donna Dawson says, "The age of 33 is enough time to have shaken off childhood naivete and the wild scheming of teenaged years without losing the energy and enthusiasm of youth.” Fair assessment.
But why 33? Why not 32 or 34? Or just "your 30s"? It seems like such an arbitrary number -- one that both excites and terrifies me.
I think the odds of this year being the best year of my entire life are pretty high -- and please know that that's a bold statement coming from someone who veers to the side of pessimism. Everyone in my family is healthy; my husband and I have good jobs, a place to live; and, mainly, my first child is due in a few weeks. All in all, things are on the up and up. But that's just me. I know plenty of other people who have had the very experiences I'm having right now at a completely different age.
I heard similar rumblings when I entered my 30s. People would say things like, "Oh, man, you're gonna love your 30s. They're way better than your 20s. You feel less insecure; you know who you are, blah, blah, blah." And I got excited, because, in some respects, parts of my 20s did suck. Career uncertainty was always on my mind; I had a live-in boyfriend who was gone year-round with his band; and I was 3,000 miles away from any family whatsoever. Change was welcome.
But shortly into my 30s -- days to be exact -- my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. And a year and a half later she passed away. Way to start off this supposed transcendent decade. I longed for my 20s, where the petty things were the big things. I may have felt less insecure, but shit was a little too real for my taste in my 30s.
That was my experience, though. Thankfully, most people don't enter their 30s like that. For many, I'm sure things are transcendent -- they've got their relationships and their jobs and almost everything else in order. Just like how I'm sure for many, their 20s are where it's at.
Happiness isn't quantifiable. The pinnacle of it doesn't occur at a specific age. A lot of it is innate, and the other parts of it rest on outside experiences. I don't think I need to tell you that we really don't have much control of either.
That said, though, here's to 33 being my best year yet. And it only getting better from there.
Check out a video on the study:
What year were you "happiest"?
Image via Marcin Wichary/Flickr
Going to baseball games
Riding bike rides in the nice weather
Playing outside after work/school
Going for walks outside