Humans are wired to handle midlife crisis

Humans are wired to handle midlife crisis, by Damian Whitworth.

The age of 49 is apparently when we are most miserable, disappointed and confused. This week I turned 49, so reading The Happiness Curve was sobering. The curve of the title refers to the U-shape on a graph that represents the relationship between life satisfaction and age. One data set of more than 300,000 Britons shows that the bottom of the U, the point where people are most dissatisfied with their lot, is 49. Anxiety and stress also peak at — take a wild guess — the same age. …

There is good news, though. In the early 50s satisfaction tends to ­increase again. …

Researchers … have found that satisfaction drops in the late 30s and 40s, bottoming out in the late 40s and early 50s, before rising again steadily as we get older, reaching a peak about 70, then levelling out, with a mild decline, until the deep old age of 80 and beyond. …

Data tracking people across several years shows that in our 20s and 30s, still brimming with optimism, we over-estimate how satisfied we will be in the future. The gap between expectation and reality closes when we are in our 40s. Then in our late 50s, 60s and 70s we rate our life satisfaction more highly than what we gloomily had predicted it would be five years earlier.

hat-tip Stephen Neil