For the "youth is wasted on the young" file:
In recent months, however, several studies have produced a stream of evidence that mostly points in the same direction, and also happens to overturn one of the most stubborn American stereotypes: the belief that this is a land whose gifts, charms and joys flow mostly to young people.
The studies show that when you check on how happy people are at various ages, the elderly generally come out ahead.
Since 1972, researchers have conducted 50,000 detailed interviews with Americans. The questions of the General Social Survey are repeated year after year to enable researchers to detect trends and to make comparisons among groups and to see how the same people changed over time. One asks whether they are very happy, pretty happy or not too happy.
Maybe happiness has to be learned. We spend most of our lives figuring out what makes us happy, then finally decide to do more of that and less of the stuff we just thought was important in our younger days.