Happiness at 30

It is human nature to seek happiness. Everyone from social scientists to religious leaders to philosophers has tried to find the one key that opens all doors to the optimal feeling of joy, contentment, and satiety. But happiness is hard to pin down. Is it social contentedness, relative wealth, a suitable profession, companionship or just plain love?

Here, Chicagoans on the verge of 30, and those just past it, share what happiness--enduring or momentary--means to them.

Happiness in Partnership

"For me, the twenties sucked big time," says Monica LaBelle, 32. But with the help of her (now) husband, Eric Hahn, 34, she says has since grown into herself and, in doing so, discovered a newfound sense of fulfillment. LaBelle knows that happiness can be fleeting, but she is now at a job she loves and has been happily married for just over a year.

Happiness is balance

Paul Dailing, 32, of Tinley Park, Ill. finds happiness in balance--"I need enough chaos to keep me interested and enough order to keep me comfortable," he said. But why is the 30 the pivotal age for achieving happiness? Dailing only guesses that because we have 10 fingers, we build our lives in units of 10 years, and 30 seems like a good time to have found an equilibrium.

Happier than expected

Jackie Anderson, 29, moved to Chicago for college and never left. She has been in a relationship for two years and is happier than she expected to be.

Happiness in the Media