The Mid-Life Crisis Illustrated

Happiness, it seems, is U-shaped. According to 6 surveys recently conducted on life satisfaction around the globe, responses plotted by age show that, generally, people report high degrees of happiness in their late teens and early 20s. But as the years roll by, people become more and more miserable, hitting a nadir in life satisfaction sometime around the early 50s. Good news is that happiness rebounds from there into retirement.

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It’s fascinating to see that across multiple countries, which consist of diverse economic backgrounds, the satisfaction curve takes a similar shape. But why the dip around your 50s? As the report noted:

“There is much evidence that humans experience a midlife psychological 'low.' The exact causes of this aren't entirely clear. One common explanation is that in wealthy countries, middle age is a particularly stressful time. People in their late 40s and early 50s are often at the peak of their careers (will all the headaches that entails), and many are dealing with unruly adolescent children to boot.”

From the stress of mid-life, it seems that the prospect of retirement brings back the enjoyment of life. It is heartening to note that satisfaction rise as retirement approaches, and even continues to grow through one’s elder years. It shows that people still find a way to live happy lives despite fearful headlines touting a looming retirement crisis.