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December 2008 Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource Highlights Happiness, Dementia and Smoking
Date:12/9/2008

ROCHESTER, Minn., Dec. 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Here are highlights from the December issue of Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource. You may cite this publication as often as you wish. Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource attribution is required. Reprinting is allowed for a fee. Include the following subscription information as your editorial policies permit: Visit www.bookstore.mayoclinic.com or call toll-free for subscription information, 800-876-8633, extension 9751.

Who's Happy and Why

ROCHESTER, Minn. -- Happiness can be measured -- but not bought, according to the December issue of Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource. Those are two observations made by researchers as they studied well-being from the scientific perspective -- sociological, biological, genetic and psychological.

Age, genetics and a sense of purpose are significant factors in happiness. Money? Not so much. Poverty is not conducive to happiness, but once basic needs are met, income levels don't change life satisfaction much.

Among other highlights of the happiness research:

Midlife crisis: This plunge is real, no matter where you live or what your circumstances. According to a study of about 2 million people in nearly 80 countries, mental distress peaks at midlife. In the United States, this typically happens for women at around age 40 and for men at around age 50.

Golden years glow: Contentment swings up later in life. People in their 60s and 70s tend to be as satisfied as younger people. No one knows for sure what causes the upswing. It could be acceptance of weakness, more maturity or more appreciation for life as friends and loved ones die. And, happier people may live longer, affecting the data.

Genetics: Numer
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