Over time, life satisfaction changes.

Over time, life satisfaction changes.

Consider the midlife crisis; how many of us bring to mind a greying middle-aged man behind the wheel of a too expensive, bright red sports car, or something to that effect? Don’t be bashful. It’s a common stereotype. 

Interestingly, new research shows that the midlife crisis or midlife slump is perhaps not just a culturally bound phenomenon of privilege. It might be an inevitable, biologically determined journey in which we are given the opportunity to grapple with our own expectations and limitations in order (hopefully!) to cultivate a more generous and wise approach to determining what’s really important in life. (Hint: it’s not a bright red sports car!)  

Jonathan Rauch’s cover story in The Atlantic this month, "The Real Roots of Midlife Crisis," explores the so-called U-curve, a period in which life satisfaction or happiness begins to decrease in early adulthood until somewhere in one’s mid-50s when life satisfaction begins to increase again. In other words, “happiness may be affected by age, and the hard part in middle age, whether you call it a midlife crisis or something else, is for many people a transition to something much better—something, there is reason to hope, like wisdom.”

Where are you on the U-curve? And how are you dealing with it?