“Kids are happiest when they are excited, whereas older people are happiest when they feel peaceful.”

An examination of emotions reported on 12 million personal blogs along with a series of surveys and laboratory experiments show that the meaning of happiness is not fixed; instead, it systematically shifts over the course of one’s lifetime. Whereas younger people are more likely to associate happiness with excitement, as they get older, they become more likely to associate happiness with peacefulness. This change appears to be driven by a redirection of attention from the future to the present as people age. The dynamics of what happiness means have broad implications, from purchasing behavior to appropriate ways to increase one’s happiness.

Read the full research abstract here.