Middle-aged people are the most optimistic age group, according to new research.
A study involving more than 75,000 participants aged from 16 to 101 found people became more upbeat once they hit 40 and before they hit 60, when compared to the younger or older generation.
Study co-author Professor William Chopik, from Michigan State University, said: “We found that optimism continued to increase throughout young adulthood, seemed to steadily plateau, and then decline into older adulthood.
“Even people with fairly bad circumstances, who have had tough things happen in their lives, look to their futures and life ahead and felt optimistic.”
Large life events such as marriage, divorce, a new job, retirement, changes in health and loss of a partner, a parent or a child were taken into account over the course of the research.
Professor Chopik said: “Counterintuitively — and most surprising — we found that really hard things like deaths and divorce really didn’t change a person’s outlook to the future
“This shows that a lot of people likely subscribe to the ‘life is short’ mantra and realise they should focus on things that make them happy and maintain emotional balance.”
The findings suggested that as people age, starting from adolescence, they become more and more optimistic.
Professor Chopik said: “There’s a massive stretch of life during which you keep consistently looking forward to things and the future. Part of that has to do with experiencing success both in work and life. You find a job, you meet your significant other, you achieve your goals and so on. You become more autonomous and you are somewhat in control of your future; so, you tend to expect things to turn out well.”
But, once people reach the milestone of 60 their attitudes change, which was a finding that surprised the surprised the research team.
Professor Chopik added: “Retirement age is when people can stop working, have time to travel and to pursue their hobbies. But very surprisingly, people didn’t really think that it would change the outlook of their lives for the better.
“We oftentimes think that the really sad or tragic things that happen in life completely alter us as people, but that’s not really the case. You don’t fundamentally change as a result of terrible things; people diagnosed with an illness or those who go through another crisis still felt positive about the future and what life had ahead for them on the other side.”
The study has been published in the Journal of Research in Personality.