Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes
SALT LAKE CITY – The average Utahn reaches life satisfaction at age 48, citing personal relationships and happiness in their career, according to a survey from Mixbook, which produces custom photography products.
The report surveyed 3,442 people age 65 and older across the country, and found the national average age of peak life satisfaction is 44. Three in four respondents also reported they would choose love over wealth if given the choice between the two.
Mixbook asked participants questions to find out when the average American believed they had attained peak life satisfaction, or happiness with the trajectory of their lives, jobs, friends, family and relationships. Mixbook then created an interactive map showing the variation of peak life satisfaction age in each state.
About 79% of people surveyed reported being happy with their career and 34% said their relationships were the aspect of their lives they were the happiest with.
"While what drives our satisfaction may vary, our relationships with friends and family and our time together are at the core of human happiness," Leslie Albertson, Mixbook marketing director, said.
Spanish Fork resident Jennifer Atkinson said good relationships contribute to her overall life satisfaction.
At 49 years old, Atkinson said a lot of people her age are becoming empty nesters, with fewer daily stressors involved in their day-to-day routines. This time of life gives people a chance to focus on their own needs and happiness rather than constantly being focused on other's needs all the time.
"I think there is a lot of freedom at this age," Atkinson said.
With an average life expectancy of 78 years in America, reaching peak life satisfaction in the 40s sounds a little disappointing, as it implies life goes downhill from there.
Atkinson acknowledged that life satisfaction might decrease after a certain point because people start losing friends and family as they also age. Having kids in your life less of the time, facing health and activity issues and potentially losing people close to you could all factor into why life satisfaction goes down as age advances.
Draper resident Mike Neyman said life satisfaction, for him, has fluctuated throughout his life, and said it's hard to pinpoint a specific year in his life when his satisfaction has peaked.
Finding happiness is different than achieving satisfaction in life, which can be so easily swayed by challenges in life, Neyman said.
Life satisfaction, he said, is dependent on many factors and can change depending on the stage of life you are in.
The survey points out that high school students might have high life satisfaction when they have a good group of friends and are on a sports team at their school. College students could reach a high satisfaction with life at a time when they are taking classes they enjoy, have a decent paying job and are meeting new people.
For someone in their 40s, life satisfaction could look a lot different. At this middle age, it's most likely dependent on financial independence, career success and a person's level of family interaction.
Satisfaction looks different for everyone and will most likely fluctuate throughout life as many factors contribute to its increase or decrease, Mixbook points out.
Neyman said comparison to other people's lives might influence someone's perceived life satisfaction, as well. Seeing other people your age with a nicer car, better paying job or anything else "better" or "more" than your own situation can lead people to worry about falling behind in life or that they have already reached their peak and are now on a downhill slope.
Neyman said it is important for people to seek happiness at any age, even amid challenges that might be affecting their life satisfaction.
"I plan to keep getting better until the day I die," he said.