The Happiness Curve explains why life gets better after middle age. Drawing on the latest economic research, Rauch explains why happiness is naturally U-shaped, declining from youthful optimism to midlife malaise and eventual wisdom and gratitude.
The Happiness Curve by Jonathan Rauch
The Happiness Curve is a detailed empirical study of how happiness changes with age.
Drawing on groundbreaking economic research, the author explores how our life satisfaction changes naturally over time taking us from the optimism and ambition of youth to the wisdom and gratitude of old age.
A great read at any age, this book will get you thinking about your own happiness, the natural ebb and flow of satisfaction and the techniques you can employ to ride the Happiness Curve as your life bends and twists over time.
Below are some of the key insights I took from this book:
- Happiness naturally changes as we age.
- What makes us happy in life is rarely what we think. (The Easterlin Paradox)
- The U-Shaped Happiness curve obtains across nations (and apes).
- The higher the level and the earlier the turning point of the Happiness Curve predicts the overall happiness across nations (e.g. Denmark vs. China)
- Happiness is primarily about relative expectations. This is similar to ‘tallness’ or ‘wealth’ where absolute change is less important than relative status. (Relative Expectations)
- The paradox of aging is that ambition and optimism eventually give way to wisdom and gratitude, creating a much improved level of happiness. This is a feature of evolutionary psychology as our fertility changes. (Paradox of Aging)
- Normalising our happiness is an excellent self help strategy.
- Staying present in the moment is also a proven coping technique. (Power of Now)
- Interrupting the internal critic and only making downward comparisons is also a proven technique to increase reported wellbeing.
- 4 of 6 empirical factors feeding happiness refer to the social/relational spheres.
- Gratitude is perhaps the single most important way to ground your happiness as life twists and turns and is heavily reported alongside peak life satisfaction.