The secret to happiness starts with sharing experiences with others.
Happiness has long been seen as a central purpose of human life and a goal in itself. As long ago 320BC Aristotle came up with the phrase “happiness depends upon ourselves”.
You should do more of the things you love and make time to enjoy the little things in life, especially in middle age, suggests Professor Paul Dolan. This includes seeing old friends and making new friends, listening to music and going outdoors….and throwing away “the self-help books”.
Professor Dolan asked people how satisified they felt with certain aspects of their life and how worthwhile they felt. He discovered that young people had an amount of false optimism about life. However, by midlife, most people hadn’t achieved what they would like to and so were less happy. By the time they reached their late 50s they started to get over themselves and start doing the things they wanted, caring less about social comparisons.
Dolan points out this is not unique to Western culture. The U-shape in happiness has been replicated in surveys around the globe, in all cultures.