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At what age does life have the most meaning ?

Posted on Tuesday, 24 December, 2019 | Comment icon 14 comments

How we perceive meaning varies from person to person. Image Credit: Jonathan Steffen
A new study has come up with the age at which most people feel that they no longer need to seek out meaning.
For most people, life represents something of a conundrum - we aren't born with a specific vocation or goal in mind, instead we must find our own path as we move into adulthood and beyond.

Now according to a new study headed up by psychiatrist Dr. Awais Aftab from the University of California, there is a specific age at which most people feel that their life has the most meaning.

The figure the researchers came up with was 60 years old.

According to survey data, the presence of meaning in one's life begins to rise at 20 and continues to increase until peaking at around 60, before beginning to drop off.

Conversely, the search for meaning in one's life peaks at age 20 and is lowest at age 60.
"Young adults in [their] twenties and adults in their thirties are actively seeking out careers, friendships, and romantic relationships," Dr. Aftab told Live Science.

"People in their forties and fifties usually have more established careers and relationships; many of them have families and children. The active pursuit for meaning decreases and the perception that their life is meaningful increases."

"After age 60, these trends begin to reverse. With retirement, bereavement, and increasing health issues, the established sources of meaning in their lives begin to fade and people tend to start searching for other sources of meaning."

The researchers however note that these figures are not absolute - there is a great deal of variety from person to person and for some, the presence of meaning can peak much later than 60.

There is also believed to be a link between the presence of meaning and how healthy a person is.

"How healthy and functional we are impacts how meaningful we find our lives to be, and that meaning in our lives in turn promotes further health and well-being," said Dr. Aftab.

Source: Live Science | Comments (14)

Tags: Life

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #5 Posted by Aaron2016 on 28 December, 2019, 0:10
Life is a series of chapters which enable us to re-evaluate our lives, as we reflect back on our past mistakes, but also our achievements, and seek out ways to adapt ourselves and change our ways for the better, with new goals and priorities set as we move into the next chapter of life with a feeling of reborn optimism.  e.g.  I felt it when I was 16, 26, and recently when i turned 35 this year.  It sort of feels like I lived three different lives, with each one focused on different priorities, desires, relationships, and tastes.  If I were to meet my younger selves we would probably react to ... [More]
Comment icon #6 Posted by KNash on 29 December, 2019, 1:31
I think that's subjective. Personally, I think it's when you're old enough to have experienced life but not to the point where you might feel jaded by it.
Comment icon #7 Posted by joc on 29 December, 2019, 2:33
I agree...somewhat...btw... You look like art!
Comment icon #8 Posted by onlookerofmayhem on 29 December, 2019, 3:41
Life has the most meaning whenever you realize you alone are ultimately the great decider as to what the meaning of life is and actively participate in contributing to that meaning. 
Comment icon #9 Posted by Manwon Lender on 29 December, 2019, 4:49
It's an interesting concept, but I think that along with feeling comfortable in your own skin and the knowledge that come along with it socioeconomic factors also play a part in how meaningful life can be. For me I am finally at the point where life seems most meaningful. I am retired and along with my wife I can now enjoy it to its fullest extent. 
Comment icon #10 Posted by Festina Lente on 29 December, 2019, 15:09
After one is held by the hand of the Gentle Pilot.  Breath. 
Comment icon #11 Posted by MissJatti on 1 January, 2020, 5:38
When doctors tell you that ''you don't have long to live''
Comment icon #12 Posted by Big Jim on 1 January, 2020, 15:13
I notice that the curve of meaning described in the article corresponds with the rise and fall of hormonal activity.  The search for meaning and the feeling that you've found it mirrors the search for mates and security and the acquisition of same.  It's also very subjective, as it pointed out.  It's been my belief that our lives can have meaning even if it's not apparent to us.  For example, a teacher may just be doing their job, stuck in a rut, feeling their life has no meaning, but without knowing it inspires some student to have an impact on the world after the teacher has passed away.  Pe... [More]
Comment icon #13 Posted by UFO_Monster on 5 January, 2020, 22:00
I am quoting this just to acknowledge that we both actually agree on something for once. That's a milestone for the ages. Back when our ancestors were struggling to survive, I sincerely doubt that the idea of "purpose" and "meaning" were on their minds when they were fighting for their lives. I'm sure they did ask questions about what they were doing and why they existed, but not to the extent that people do now. Most people in first world countries aren't hunting for their own food, and have lives of comfort to some degree. We also don't have to scrounge for warmth or make shelter when condit... [More]
Comment icon #14 Posted by Habitat on 5 January, 2020, 22:27
I think it more likely where there is a lot of free time available, someone once said "social security tends to psychological insecurity". A lot of people avoid thinking too much about these things, by compulsive busyness. But many are just busy by necessity.

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