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Are your best days still ahead of you?

02 Feb 2015

It is not until our late 50s or early 60s that more of us admit our best days are behind us than believe they still lie ahead, a new survey shows.

But the latest Australian Unity Wellbeing Index survey released today shows that by the time we reach our mid-60s, this concession to age makes little actual difference to how happy we feel.

The survey of more than 900 Australians reflects an overall sense of optimism about life, with more than seven in 10 saying their best days are either “right now” or in the future.

The responses understandably vary depending on age, with the vast majority of 18-25 year olds (85 percent) believing their best days still lie ahead, dropping to around 44 percent for 46-55 year olds.

The crossover happens at 56-65 years of age, where slightly more people believe their best days are behind them (31.7 percent) rather than ahead (30.3 percent), the survey shows. At this age most still believe they are at the best stage of life (38 percent).

“The data show that the average wellbeing of 56-65 year olds who say their best days are behind them is significantly lower than those of the same age who say it is right now or ahead,” report author Dr Melissa Weinberg from Deakin University’s Australian Centre on Quality of Life says.

“However, when they reach 65, an interesting change emerges, as it appears by then that the sense their best days have gone by makes little difference to how happy they feel.

“This may reveal a more realistic rather than optimistic outlook, but it doesn’t affect an overall positive satisfaction with life,” Dr Weinberg says. “The sense of nostalgia generated by reflecting on their achievements in life is perhaps as beneficial to wellbeing as retaining a sense of optimism about future achievements.”

Dr Weinberg noted the high proportion of older Australians who consider they are having the best time of their life.

“Even at 76+, one-third of respondents say their best days are right now, and they have the highest wellbeing scores of all,’’ Dr Weinberg says.

The Australian Unity Wellbeing Index regularly surveys people to evaluate their satisfaction with life across a range of issues – standard of living, health, achievement in life, personal relationships, safety, community connection and future security¬≠–which provides a measure of wellbeing, or happiness.

The full report can be viewed at

For further information or interviews please contact:

Dr Melissa Weinberg: 0402 039 491 or


Stephen Lunn, Senior Manager Public Policy, Australian Unity

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