Why Middle Age Can Be the Best Part of Your Life

If you had to guess what the best era in life would be, you could say, “Be young and no obligation” or “old with a retirement fund.” It turns out that for many people, the best part of life is the exhausting middle age.

The writer and Reverend Lydia Zon decided to interview members of her congregation at the age of ninety, wanting to know what their views on life were now that they had seen most of it. In his Medium post about their responses, Dream mentions something called the “U-Curve of Life” that has been popular since 2010, when the concept went viral from an article in The Economist .

The U-bend in life is the idea that people are statistically happier in their 70s, and the worst periods of depression are in their 20s and 46s. responsibilities for work, money and family, which are usually grouped in this time period. But Zon writes that when she asked these seniors what time they think was their happiest time, she fell right into this big U of stress:

Each of these 90-year-olds, all of them widowed, recalled a time when their spouses were still alive and their children were younger and lived at home. As a busy young mom and working professional who often dreams of the distant, imaginary joys of retirement, I quickly responded, “But weren’t these the most stressful times of your life?” Yes, of course, everyone agreed. But there was no doubt that those days were also the happiest.

The dream argues that happiness is not so much a feeling of peace as “a state of satisfaction, meaning, or abundance.” It is also possible that it is not something that we can definitely appreciate while it is happening, but only when we look back at it.

If this is kind of a bummer, Zon also discovered that we probably don’t think much about aging – it’s much easier when you don’t think you’re cool. Her interlocutors were mostly upset that they became noticeably older only if they highly valued their appearance in their youth:

Those who were valued for good looks or athleticism experienced far more grief over their current body than those who gained confidence in qualities that were much less entrenched over time. For example, one respondent was well known in her area as a writer and columnist for local newspapers. When I asked her if she was upset with her aging appearance, she replied, “Well, I never thought I was pretty, so no.”

If people got upset about aging because of vanity or lost skill, they mostly grieved about it in their 70s, but it gradually faded away. If you live to be ninety, obviously there is much to be seen in perspective. So we all have something to wait for! In the meantime, try to enjoy the place where you are, no matter how unpleasant it is.


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