Parents Perspective

Only One-Third of Adults Are Really Happy—Are You?

A new study shows that adults 30 and older are expressing less satisfaction with their lives.

happy mom carrying daughter on shoulders outside in fall Shutterstock
I've lost track of how many articles I've seen promising that your 30s are way better than your 20s. You have more direction in life! You're wiser! You take better care of yourself! (Or so the Internet would have me believe.) At 27, I'm pretty content with my life now, but I do look forward to entering a more stable period some day. So I was a little alarmed to see this new research that suggests today's 30-somethings are not as happy as their parents were. Just 33 percent of adults 30 and older report that they are "very happy" now.

There are plenty of possible explanations for this drop in happiness—economic insecurity and the pressure to "keep up with the Joneses" on social media being two that I can certainly relate to. It's hard to feel optimistic when you have college debt looming over you for basically the rest of your life, after all.

Still, I refuse to accept this as my fate. There's always something to be discontent about, no matter what stage of your life you're in. I could focus on how jealous I am of my friends' seemingly-perfect lives on Instagram—or I could be grateful for my close family, my wonderful fiancé, and my job that I truly enjoy. It may sound cheesy, but I really do have a lot to be thankful for. Being mindful of all the good stuff helps me feel at peace about where I'm at, student loans and all.

Want to join me in the one-third of happy adults? There are lots of ways to increase your joy, but making sure you get enough sleep, spending time with loved ones, and exercising regularly are all good places to start. It's impossible to be upbeat all the time, but figure out what brings you pleasure—whether it's cooking with your kids, a rare date night, or a quiet bubble bath before bed—and focus on that as much as you possibly can. Sometimes, it's those little things that can make a huge difference.

How do you get happy?

Chrisanne Grise is the assistant health editor at Parents. She finds happiness by curling up on the couch with her dog and a good book. Follow her on Twitter: @xanne.