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Is the 'midlife crisis' a real thing?

A midlife crisis

A midlife crisis is often seen as a pivot point of life, where attention shifts from time past to time that is still left. It is usually a period of despair and requires a process of adjustment.

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Is the 'midlife crisis' a real thing?

Is the 'midlife crisis' a real thing?

http://theconversation.com/is-the-midlife-crisis-a-real-thing-105510

theconversation.com

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Key Ideas

A midlife crisis

A midlife crisis is often seen as a pivot point of life, where attention shifts from time past to time that is still left. It is usually a period of despair and requires a process of adjustment.

When a midlife crisis should appear

Concepts of middle age change as we get older. People aged over 60 recalled their midlife crisis at 53, while those in their 40s dated theirs to 38.

It appears that there are no distinct midlife crises, but rather crises that occur from time to time.

The theory of midlife crises

  • The term "midlife crises" was coined in 1965, and reflects the dawning recognition of one's mortality where death becomes a personal matter.
  • According to Elliot Jaques, the key achievement of middle age is to move beyond youthful idealism to a constructive acceptance.
  • Other explanations are that it is when children may be leaving home, when chronic illnesses often make their first appearance, or when workplace demands may be peaking.

Midlife as a time of growth

Midlife does not have to be a time of psychological gloom.

  • People become less neurotic and self-conscious from age 41 to 50.
  • Women from ages 43 to 52 tend to become less dependent and self-critical, more confident, responsible and decisive.
  • The more crises people reported the more empathetic they were towards others.

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The Young And The Restless

The teen years are a time when refinements in synapses and the brain wiring are happening, along with various biological changes due to the highly conspicuous social and psychological transformation. The brain is on overdrive due to a high level of diverse engagements like:

  • Romantic relationships.
  • Intimate bondings.
  • Independence from the family.
  • Exploring a career path.
Stressful Life Changes

Any illness, physical or mental can be compounded by psychological stress and anxiety. Adolescence to adulthood comprises a tsunami of psychological changes.

These psychological and biological changes are in fact programmed developments of the body that may be parallel or corresponding to the changes that occur during midlife.

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The happiness curve
The happiness curve

There is increasing evidence that happiness through adulthood is U-shaped.

Life satisfaction falls in our 20s and 30s, then hitting a low in our late 40s before increasing until our 80s....

The midlife slump

That midlife slump (not to be confused with a midlife crisis) is often nothing - just a natural transition due to the passing of time.

Those likely to notice it are people that seem to have everything going for them; they're achieving their goals, and nothing much changed, yet they feel less satisfied than they expected and think there must be something wrong with their lives.

When the U-curve occurs

According to a study by economists, the U-curve is generally noticed at age 46. It tends to appear in wealthier countries.

However, some economists and psychologists factor in the possibility that those who become happier in the studies are the same people who are content in their early years.

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Mid-career crises

A mid-career crisis can happen to anyone. It causes pain to the individual suffering from it and it also leads to productivity losses for employers.

A group of economists researchers found th...

Mid-career crises do not discriminate

The age-related curve in job satisfaction has been found in more than 50 countries. It affects senior-level executives as well as blue-collar workers, stay-at-home parents, childless couples and single people.

Generally, life satisfaction is high when people are young, it starts to decline in the early 30s and is the lowest between mid-40s and mid-50s. Then it increases again to levels as high as during young adulthood.

Life aspirations
  • Young people are overly optimistic and expect significant increases in life satisfaction. 
  • As we age, we become disillusioned as our aspirations evaporate. 
  • When we bottom out, we come to terms with our circumstances and accept life. 
  • People over 50 tend to underestimate their future satisfaction, and increases come as an unexpected surprise, which raises satisfaction levels.

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