Why life improves after 50

Why life improves after 50

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“Science has concluded that after age 50 it tends to make us happy, like that until the end,” Rauch said.

When Jonathan Rauch fell into a crisis at the start of his 40 years, he could not understand why he felt that way. He was doing well in life: he had a successful career as an expert in public policy, he was in a stable relationship, he was in good health and he did not lack money.

“It was a mystery,” he told the BBC. “It did not make sense”.

“The discomfort worsened as my life improved objectively, it was all splendid!” He describes.

But Rauch felt “dissatisfied and restless, trapped in the body of someone who wants to throw everything away.”

When he finally discovered the reasons behind that discomfort, he decided to write a book: “The happiness curve: why life improves after 50”, which has just been published in the United States and the United Kingdom.

“It’s not a crisis”

According to Rauch, the crisis he went through is a widespread phenomenon but different from the stereotype of what people think is a middle-aged crisis.

“It occurs in countries and cultures around the world and even a version of it was identified between chimpanzees and orangutans,” he said.

Middle-aged man looking at himself in the mirror.
Copyright of the image LAFLOR / GETTY IMAGES
Image caption The problem with the idea of the mid-life crisis is that it’s really “not a crisis,” says Rauch.

The problem with the idea of the mid-life crisis is that it is really “not a crisis”.

“A crisis involves a sudden shock , an interruption, something abnormal, something alarming or scary,” he explains.

“But not like that, it’s really a middle-aged transition .”

Rauch describes it as a “slow and gradual change of values, perfectly natural but quite unpleasant, which tends to happen in the 40s”.

“The good news is that it has an end, the bad news is that it’s not fun at all.”

What happens after 50?

Man in his 50s smiling
Copyright of the image JUANMONINO / GETTY IMAGES
Image caption “The aging process is the reverse of how we imagine it,” says Jonathan Rauch.

“The biggest surprise was that, in a uniform and in many different ways, science has found that after age 50 tends to make us happier, until the end of life.

“It’s not what we think: we usually see aging as a miserable process in which we are losing capacities and becoming sadder.

“It’s really the other way around: as we grow older our brains become more resistant to stress, we experience less remorse, we are more positive, we are emotionally less volatile, we take more advantage of the moment, we connect better with people and we even have some protection against the emotional damage caused by the loss of health.

“It’s something amazing and surprising, ” emphasizes the author, who for the book interviewed economists, psychologists and neuroscientists.

He says that, in fact, several investigations have found evidence that happiness throughout adult life is U-shaped : satisfaction with life gradually declines during the 20s and 30s, bottoms out in the lives of 40 but only to increase to 80.

And when things go wrong?

It is clear that not everyone will have a third age of roses: as we age our health tends to deteriorate and we lose loved ones. Other factors such as divorce, unemployment or illnesses can tarnish the benefits of this late stage of life.

Happy senior couple
Copyright SOLSTOCK / GETTY IMAGES IMAGE
Image caption “It turns out that the aging process is the reverse of how we imagine it,” says the author.

But, leaving big problems aside, Rauch believes that the curve of the U remains: “It turns out that the aging process is the reverse of how we imagine”.

For the author, in the quarantine we are supposed to be at the top of our capacities and our achievements, and therefore we must be happy, but in reality the 40 to 50 are really a very vulnerable age.

On the contrary, he explains: “Towards 60 and 70 we are supposed to be miserable and it turns out that it is one of the most emotionally satisfying and satisfyingtimes in life “.

“We have that idea that at age 65 the best of life is behind us and what we have to do is retire and get out of the picture.”

But according to the author, “the great teaching” of his book and the research that has been done is that humanity is now receiving “the greatest gift of its history, which is an additional 15 years in the stage of life that is more rewarding and sociable. “

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