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Adults Over 30 Are Less Happy Than Ever Before

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Ever since researchers started objectively measuring people's happiness, they've known that adults are generally happier than kids. It makes sense—grown-ups get to drive cars, eat all the candy they want, and stay up late binge-watching Netflix (even on school nights!). Today, we also have higher incomes, larger homes, more labor-saving devices, more leisure time, more opportunities for education, longer lifespans, and better physical health than any other generation before us.

So what's not to love? A lot, actually, says a new study that found that for the first time adults over 30 report being less happier overall. That's right—despite all our modern advances, the payoffs for being a responsible grown-up are dwindling, the researchers say. And a lot of it comes down to our relationships with those around us, it seems. Researchers point out that we live in a "culture of individualism" which prizes the self over others, and adults in the study reported they had less social support and less stable relationships than people in other generations. Rates of depression and anxiety have skyrocketed in recent years, adding fuel to the unhappiness fire; and the researchers point out that marriage rates reached an all-time low in 2014. And while being wed doesn't equal bliss, scientists say being coupled up is one of the strongest indicators of overall happiness.

Another happiness-killer they found: the rise in "materialistic values" which can lead to despair—no matter how much you actually have.

The bright side: You're not doomed to a life of unhappiness and despair, though. Research has shown that building strong friendships (even through social media), exercising, choosing to be positive and optimistic, taking time every day to be grateful for what you do have, finding something you love to do, and helping other people are all proven happiness boosters. And forget about what the scale says—weight loss isn't correlated with happiness but exercise, regardless of whether you lose weight, sure is.

Ready to prove this study wrong and start finding your happiness? Remember that happiness is a choice, and you can choose it no matter what is happening around you. Try these 20 things you can do right now to get instantly happier and then make it a lifelong habit with our 7-step guide to happiness.

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