When you think about popular birthdays, 21 springs to mind pretty quickly. The day you can legally order yourself a cocktail (gotta love the superfood variety) is a big milestone, along with officially becoming an adult at 18 and legally hitting the road without a chaperone in the car.
But what are the actual best ages? A new study from London’s School of Economics and Political Sciences set out to find the specific ages that stack up to be the most satisfying.
The results revealed an interesting U-shaped curve, with satisfaction generally higher on the extremes of the age range in the study.
To do this, researchers asked 23,000 German volunteers ranging from 17 to 85 (because there’s a slim-to-none chance you enjoyed your angsty teenage years) about their life satisfaction, reports Brit+Co. Then participants were asked to predict how happy they’d be in five years—and after that period, they reported on how they actually felt.
The results revealed an interesting U-shaped curve, with satisfaction generally higher on the extremes of the age range in the study, and bottoming out in middle age. And there are two ages where happiness peaks: 23 and 69.
Looking back at 23, it was certainly a joyful year. You’re likely starting your career journey, still really young, and figuring out your interests and hobbies. And at 69, you might be free of the working world—or at least you’ve racked up enough vacay to jet off to Bali whenever you feel like it.
So it makes sense—but that’s not to say that everything between 23 and 69 is mediocre. (Happiness can be a choice, after all—and one you can start making first thing tomorrow.) Let’s just say this study shows you have a lot to look forward to.
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