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Thank God I’m no longer in my 20s. Back then, I was so full of energy and enthusiasm that I could work all day and head off to play basketball for three hours, so fit and active that I could eat Herculean quantities of food and never gain an ounce. My hair was dark and thick and wavy, and there were times when several women vied for my attentions; I was so free and unencumbered by responsibility that I could stay out half the night, drinking and carousing, with no ill effect. But was I happy? Funny you should ask. A new study of 350,000 people (see Health & Science) found that people in the turbulent rapids of life, in their 20s, 30s, and 40s, are actually quite unhappy most of the time—stressed, confused, full of self-doubt. When we reach the flat water of our 50s, 60s, and 70s, we become more content and more peaceful. Happier.
My experience exactly. When women stopped paying attention to me some years ago, it liberated me to concentrate on other things, such as tending to my backyard tomato patch. Eating to my heart’s content? Mere gluttony, best outgrown. I admit that I sometimes miss soaring through the air on a basketball court, but let’s face it. All that leaping about is juvenile. It’s more efficient to pedal the stationary bike in the basement, while watching Meet the Press. At times, when I catch a reflection of my older self in a store window, I wonder, “Who the hell is that?” But my graying hair is more distinguished than the virile mop of callow youth, and my wrinkles, incipient jowls, and paunch are signs of character. Take heart, friends: You and I are not getting older. We’re getting happier.
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