The happiest of all? Those aged 65 to 79. Here’s the surprising facts – and how to be even happier. Posted on May 2, 2019May 2, 2019 by Peter Meadows If you are between 65 and 79 then the words of the late Ken Dodd hit the nail on the head – Happiness, happiness, the greatest gift that I possess I thank the Lord that I’ve been blessed With more than my share of happiness Why? Because, as someone in that 65 to 79 age bracket, you truly do have more than your share of happiness. Its official – confirmed by a robust study from the Office for National Statistics. The survey assed happiness for a sample of 300,000 people between 2012 and 2015, under four headings – How satisfied they were with life How worthwhile they felt their lives to be How happy they felt How anxious they were Revealingly, in every one of these categories, the 65’s to 79s are streets ahead of every other age group with one very, very, small exception. This is what the research tells us – Life satisfaction: This peaks between 65 and 79 with them being 400 per cent more satisfied with life than those in their mid-50s. The only other age group to match this – which is the very small exception – is those in their carefree teenage years. So there’s every reason for ‘oldies’ to be young at heart. Life being worthwhile: It’s the same story here – with the 65s to 79s being almost a fifth more likely to feel life is worthwhile than those struggling through their mid-50s. However – to flash a warning – the ‘life is worthwhile’ feeling nosedives for those 90 and older. Yet, even then, those 90+ reported greater life satisfaction and happiness than those in their middle years. Life being happy: Once again it’s much the story. Those 65 to 79 see themselves as 300 per cent more happy than the miserable mid-50s. Life creating anxiety: On this front too, the 65s to 69s feel half as anxious as those in their mid-50s. Taking it all together, the average ratings for life satisfaction, a sense your life is worthwhile, and how happy you are, skyrockets in the 65 to 79 years. Of course, this is not true for everyone. That’s not how surveys work. But it is generally true of the UK population as a whole. And there’s more. When the research was broken down in more detail, some interesting things popped up including – Married people had the highest levels of happiness – higher than those co-habiting, single, widowed or divorced. Those with jobs were happier – with part-time workers the happiest. Northern Ireland was the happiest of the UK’s nations. But the most anxious and least happy people were in England, with the North East the unhappiest region. So if you are between 65 and 79, married, with a part time job and living in Northern Ireland you must be an absolute bundle of fun. But perhaps there’s a way for the rest of us to catch up. Because it’s possible to make ourselves happier. That’s according to global studies collated by Rotterdam’s World Happiness Database. These studies show the strongest correlation with happiness is to lead an active life. As the project’s director Prof Ruut Veenhoven says, ‘In order to lead a happy life, a rewarding life, you need to be active.’ The project has also identified what is likely to be true of those who are happier than others. This reveals you tend to be happier if you – Are in a long-term relationship Are actively engaged in politics Are active in work and in your free time Go out for dinner Have close friendships – though happiness doesn’t increase with the number you have Are not too fixed on having goals So if you are in the 65 to 79 bracket, be happy that you are happier than most. Be thankful for what is also true that can add to it. And think seriously about giving it a turbo boost by keeping active, building friendships and increasing your social relationships. Oh, and raise a glass or two in memory of Ken Dodd who seems to have known some of this all along. Looking to boost your happiness by being more active? See the AfterWorkNet web pages on New Opportunities and our blog on keeping active. Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He uses his retirement to help churches, resource inter-church initiatives, enjoy his eight grandchildren, escape to Spain and to spend his kids’ inheritance.