A Global Mid-Life Crisis?
Last night on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, Dr. Nancy Snyderman reported on an interesting phenomenon: that no matter where you live in the world, it seems that your happiness takes a dip in mid-life. Apparently, if you make it through this downturn, your happiness then zooms up again to equal what it was in your younger years. A global mid-life crisis. Then, this morning, FOX News' Sheppard Smith reported on the same study. Apparently, in the U.S. this dip occurs for women in their mid-40s, while for men a little later, around 50. But, in general, this is, indeed, a global phenomenon.
It is a small world, after all.
Interesting that they could study this. It has seemed to me that in mid-life, there's a natural tendency to ask, "Is this all there is?" And, if you're dissatisfied with the answer, a drop in happiness ensues for several years, until you can figure it all out.
Tim and I experienced this (both in our 40s - he's always been rather precocious). It's why we did the "bus thing" in the first place. Like many people, until we reached our late 30s, we had gone through life feeling rather invincible. Not only was it inconceivable that something bad could ever happen to us, even our very mortality seemed suspect. When we hit our 40s, this changed, as our contemporaries experienced sudden, unexpected tragedies: A friend was diagnosed with breast cancer. A colleague died of a heart attack in his sleep. Both of us, for the first time, could feel creaks and aches in bones we hadn’t thought about since anatomy class. Over the years, as psychiatrists, we each had treated people in our practices who had looked forward to all they planned to do in retirement, but when the time came, were too ill to travel or too devastated by the death of a spouse to live out their dreams.
Those lessons started hitting home as we officially breached middle age. We knew we were fortunate in that we would always have jobs; neurosis is a growth industry, after all. We could afford to do the "bus thing" now and go back to work later.
Unfortunately, it seems Tim has taken this now scientific phenomenon as "proof" he should buy a Corvette. Since he just turned 50, he figures maybe the bus thing wasn't really his mid-life crisis after all, but if he gets the sports car of his dreams, he can forestall the Big Dip.
It was really pathetic to watch a grown man stare at the TV during Dr. Snyderman's story and plaintively whine, "Corvette... Corvette... Corvette... "
Even more pathetic when he's pining away for his new toy while inside his hugely powerful old one - a 40,000 bus.