How to Get over Your Midlife Malaise for a Happier You!
Regardless of who you are, it’s a given that you’ll undergo a midlife malaise at some point in your life. Usually, happiness tends to come back to you as you get older. That being said, you’ll have to find ways to cope with it in the meantime.
The Midlife Blues Affair
Though the knowledge of the midlife crisis has been around for years, according to Jonathan Rauch, author of The Happiness Curve, the word ‘crisis’ is actually used in the wrong context to refer to what happens to an individual during their midlife years.
In fact, when looking at global studies regarding happiness, there seems to be a consistent pattern all through. Studies show that happiness decreases during an individual’s adult life right around the time that they get to their 40s and 50s. After these years, they slowly but surely begin to experience an increase in their happiness levels.
Interestingly, in countries that are considered the happiest around the globe, the increase in happiness levels occurred at a slightly earlier time frame.
More Than Just Material Wealth
In fact, this decrease in happiness was found to happen to an individual regardless of their current life circumstances. It didn’t matter whether or not they had a stable income, were caring for their aged parents, or had managed to achieve a successful career.
That’s not to say that these things are not vital to happiness. They are!
That being said, according to the likes of happiness researchers such as Carol Graham, they have discovered that factors vital to elevated levels of happiness include financial comfortability, great health, and a stable marriage.
However, researchers admit that individuals tend to have a midlife malaise regardless of these factors that have other complexities involved.
In fact, Rauch believes that this dip is hardwired. Otherwise, it would be impossible for the same dip in happiness to occur throughout different continents, as well as in apes!
A Feeling of Not Achieving Their Expectations
Despite the reason for this dip not being clear, one study conducted in Germany discovered that by asking young Germans what they imagined their lives would be like five to ten years in the future, and then compare it to the feelings that they felt after those five years, it was found that their predictions were way above the current reality they were experiencing. In simple terms, these individuals were overly optimistic and in the end, their current reality did not match their ambitions.
This study demonstrates that when expectations do not match reality, an individual is bound to be disappointed with themselves.
Additionally, Rauch states that when individuals do not have clear indications in their lives as to why they are feeling disappointed, they can inadvertently create a negative feedback loop which leaves them feeling guilty and frustrated for long periods of time.
According to Rauch, this feedback effect seems not to affect individuals that had a traumatic event in their lives, as compared to how it affects individuals that were doing just fine.
In fact, Rauch believes that individuals who seem least affected by their current circumstances are more likely to be stuck in this negative feedback loop.
Increase in Happiness for Older Adults
Interestingly, after the 40s and 50s, it was observed that this dip seemed to inverse, and people tend to become happier as they get older. In fact, individuals observed signs of being much happier than they were 5 years ago.
Perhaps this suggests that if an individual can just overcome their midlife years, their happiness levels will slowly but surely begin to increase.
According to Rauch, such negative disappointments slowly but surely transform to positive feedback, coupled with a sense of gratitude and satisfaction in their lives.
As a matter of fact, it appears that there are a lot of mental positives that come with aging, with one of them being able to overcome their midlife malaise.
A Decline in Stress
From these studies, it seems that as we get older, stress indicators related to family and work minimize. However, studies have shown that even if these indicators are held constant, stress levels tend to decrease with age.
That being said, it appears that this downward curve is tied to stable increases in our levels of happiness.
Conclusively, it appears that older adults seem to experience lesser intensity with their emotions, and handle their emotions much better than younger adults.
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