A new study found that over-30 adults in the 1970s are happier compared to their 2010 counterparts. Fleeting happiness beyond 30 is linked with financial pressures and personal anxieties about success and fulfillment.
Researchers analyzed the data of approximately 1.3 million Americans aged 13 to 96 years old. The collected data covered the years 1972 to 2014.
In the early 1970s, 38 percent of over-30 adults were 'very happy' but in the 2010s, the percentage shrunk to 32 percent. In the 1970s, 28 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds were 'very happy' and in 2010s, the percentage rose to 30 percent. Twelfth graders seemed happier in the 2010s (23 percent) compared to the 1970s (19 percent).
"American culture has increasingly emphasized high expectations and following your dreams - things that feel good when you're young. However, the average mature adult has realized that their dreams might not be fulfilled, and less happiness is the inevitable result," said lead author Jean Twenge from the San Diego State University.
Twenge added that it is possible that mature adults in the 1970s had lower expectations, thus the higher happiness ratio. In the 2010s, expectations have risen to unrealistic levels, causing personal anxiety.
The prevalence of technology and the surrounding attention-seeking culture creates an exciting environment for young adults, particularly teens. The same excitement no longer fosters happiness in mature adults who long for a sense of community and stability, two things that over-30 adults require at a certain point in their lives.
Other experts found Twenge's study complements their own research. Washington University senior Geena Kandel shared that she and her friends are worried that a good college education might not be enough to go beyond what their parents have achieved when they were at the same age. This kind of reality puts a lot of pressure on young people.
The fleeting happiness among over-30 adults has been linked to mounting financial responsibilities. The harsh reality of existence serve as a rude awakening among young adults who were brought up to the belief that they can do anything they want. However, many are discovering that this isn't always the case for all adults in their generation.
The research was published online in the Social Psychological and Personality Science journal on Nov. 5.