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The ingredients of a happy life (Axios)

20 May 2023

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Axios Finish Line title: The ingredients of a happy life
By: Mike Allen, Erica Pandey and Jim VandeHei
Date: 26 April 2023

Just 12% of Americans classify themselves as “very happy,” according to a new Wall Street Journal-NORC poll.

  • So The Journal asked them what drives their happiness.

💡 Why it matters: The share of Americans who say they’re “pretty happy” has stayed pretty consistent over the last several years, but the share who say they’re “not happy” has jumped 18 percentage points since 2019.

  • At the same time, the share of “very happy” people has plunged 20 points.

🔭 The big picture: America’s happiest people have some common traits, The Journal’s Aaron Zitner writes.

  1. They treasure relationships, with 67% saying marriage is very important to them — compared with 43% of overall respondents.
  2. Two-thirds of “very happy” adults say they’re moderately or very religious, compared with less than half of all adults.
  3. Many of the happiest adults are satisfied with their personal finances, but they don’t tend to put a high value on money.
  4. They tend to be older. Those above the age of 60 make up 44% of the “very happy” category even though they make up just 30% of all respondents.

🧠 Worth noting: Happiness doesn’t depend on politics. Democrats and Republicans are equally represented in the “very happy” population.

Go deeper: Happiness spikes in our 70s


Axios Finish Line title: Happiness spikes in our 70s
By: Erica Pandey
Date: 31 January 2023

“Americans are staying healthier longer than ever before — and they’re transforming what older age looks like.

  • The big picture: “We have essentially created a new stage of life. Americans retire, on average, by their early to mid-60s, yet many now remain vibrant into their mid-80s,” David Brooks writes in The Atlantic.

The 70s — a largely overlooked decade of life — can be some of our best years.

🧮 By the numbers: A recent study from AARP and National Geographic found that happiness dwindles in middle age but then spikes again in one’s 70s and 80s, as people find themselves with more free time and less stress.

  • 34% of adults in their 80s and 27% of those in their 70s say they’re very happy, compared with 18% in their 50s.
  • And 51% of adults in their 70s say they’re optimistic about their futures, compared with 44% in their 60s.

🧠 Reality check: There are, of course, stressors associated with getting older. The study found that independence, brain health and the strength of relationships were older adults’ top concerns.

  • As we’ve reported, there’s a growing population of seniors who are aging alone — without any close family around them. This lack of kinship can often contribute to deteriorating mental and physical health.

The bottom line: Many of us fear the prospect of aging, but this stage of life can be enjoyed — and celebrated.”


Sources:
– Axios, 26 April 2023: https://www.axios.com/newsletters/axios-finish-line-08d075c6-b2da-49a8-9f27-8b7db1e4a86f.html
and
– Axios, 31 January 2023: https://www.axios.com/2023/01/31/aging-americans-70s-80s-retirement

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