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While you may think the 20s are the prime of your life, there’s still so much living to do. With age comes wisdom and perhaps… more happiness!

“I’m living proof!” says Mirella, 64, who retired from teaching in 2021. Two years later, she’s reveling in her new life: She sings in a choir, participates in the community garden, goes for long walks with a friend, and treats herself to a trip South every winter.

“The stress is gone,” she admits. “I now have time for myself AND for my loved ones.” What makes her most happy is the pace of retirement, not just the activities. “Life is more pleasant; I’m not as rushed or tired as I used to be. Nowadays, I really enjoy babysitting my grandson. It’s pure joy!”

This feeling seems to be widely shared among seniors, according to a 2021 Leger Happiness Index (LHI) study. People aged 55+ have high happiness scores (73.2), which can be explained mainly by financial security and an abundance of free time. No more pressure at work! The golden years are the time to have fun and enjoy life!

People before money

A Statistics Canada survey, based on 2016 data, suggests that people in their 60s and older are more satisfied with their lives than those aged 20 to 59. What makes seniors happy? Feeling safe, the quality of the local environment, and personal relationships. Income is not an important factor, except for the most vulnerable. It’s worth noting that having someone to depend on for help when you need it also contributes to higher levels of satisfaction.

According to a 2014 study by Friends United, a British social-networking site, the tipping point for happiness begins in your 30s. Over two-thirds (70%) of respondents aged 40 and older claimed they were not truly happy until they reached 33, the age at which anxiety about the future begins to fade.

What matters in life

Happiness doesn’t automatically kick in on a specific date, but it does tend to grow as we get older—a concept perfectly illustrated by the “U-bend of life” theory. Young adults are often characterized as enthusiastic. Over time, hardships pile up, stress increases, and things go downhill until “midlife crisis” hits. Then, with advancing age, well-being becomes increasingly important, with one hypothesis being that older people are wiser and know what matters in life.

There’s still a long way to go before we understand the phenomenon of happiness. What are the key factors affecting the well-being of seniors in their living environment? A new study from the Université de Sherbrooke will explore this issue. Two thousand (2,000) seniors will share their experiences… and probably a few insights on how to cultivate joy.

What about you, have you reached your golden years?