Why your happiest years are yet to come
Ah...the stereotype of the male midlife crisis.
A guy in his mid to late 40s leaves for work one day in the family saloon car and returns that evening in a flash and brightly coloured sports car (preferably red).
Or a motorbike if he’s feeling particularly reckless.
He then starts dressing in clothes more appropriate for his son and awkwardly dropping the names of popular bands his daughter listens to.
What exactly is going on here?
It turns out that happiness and age share an unusual relationship.
We don’t start our lives off deliriously happy then slowly become miserable with each passing year. In reality, happiness throughout life is U-shaped and looks like this…
You’ll notice that the midlife crisis in men coincides with their least happy period in life. (In the great majority of countries people are at their unhappiest in their 40s and early 50s with the global average being 46).
They tend to reflect on the life they’ve lived up until this ‘halfway point’ and this can lead to thoughts of sadness that time is running out or that they’ve not achieved what they had set out to achieve by this point.
These emotional holes are often filled with material purchases or uncharacteristic changes in behaviour that aim to recapture their ‘lost’ youth.
Like listening to Jay-Z and creating a Snapchat profile.
Fortunately, and to the delight of his wife and teenage children, he will undoubtedly grow out of this awkward period.
So why does our happiness increase again after middle age?
One theory is that we get better at managing our emotions as we get older. We become better at accepting misfortune and are less prone to anger.
Another thought is that as we get closer to death we become grateful for the remaining time we have left and don’t want to waste it being unhappy.
So remember age is not the enemy when it comes to happiness.
Take comfort in the fact that your best years are still yet to come.