After recently reading the Happiness Curve by Jonathan Rauch, I can joyfully agree that life really does get better after 50.
Here are the important lessons I’ve taken from the book:
- We seem to be hardwired by biological and cultural evolution to experience something that looks like a U-shaped happiness curve, which doesn’t necessarily fit with how society tells us we should feel about getting old.
- The happiness curve was first discovered in the 1990s, but no one paid the findings much attention. Then someone decided to see what was going on with such consistent data results – ’cause it couldn’t really be ignored when it was so glaringly obvious. The results form such a smile even miserable scientists couldn’t deny its existence.
- The effect varies between people – baseline subjective well-being and geography make a bit of difference but not much; there is a subtle but insistent pull which makes happiness oddly hard to grasp in midlife, but then swings into reverse-action when we least expect it to.
- When you are in your thirties no matter how much you achieve or how successful you are, happiness may allude you. You may even find that the better you do the unhappier you will feel.
- In your early fifties, happiness may come to you easier than expected. Actually, ageing may bring you more satisfaction than you’ve ever thought possible.
- Social norms tell us that its all downhill after fifty. That’s bollocks. We need to let go of outdated ideas that the midlife crisis is a slippery slope to old-age depression and understand that, in fact, it is an opportunity to decide what we want to do with our lives. That slump in our forties is a chance to reboot and transform who we are for the better.
- The Happiness Curve teaches us to turn away from competition and connect with a community, it opens up new paths to contentment and wisdom; it gives us the space to be our best selves. The only way is up…
Not everyone will take up yoga, learn to meditate, give more without wanting a reward, or (like me) decide to take a postgraduate degree in Positive Psychology. But life after 50 offers us the chance to be deeply happy. That’s news I want to share.
More tips and advice on wellbeing HERE