Peeking inside the mind of the boy dating your daughter

But the data seem eerily consistent with my experience: My 40s and early 50s were not an especially happy period of my life, notwithstanding my professional fortunes.

From December 2014: Jonathan Rauch on the real roots of midlife crisis So what can people expect after that, based on the data? Almost all studies of happiness over the life span show that, in wealthier countries, most people’s contentment starts to increase again in their 50s, until age 70 or so.

At the end of the flight, as the lights switched on, I finally got a look at the desolate man. I recognized him—he was, and still is, world-famous.

Then in his mid‑80s, he was beloved as a hero for his courage, patriotism, and accomplishments many decades ago.

that no one needs you anymore.”These words came from an elderly woman sitting behind me on a late-night flight from Los Angeles to Washington, D. I imagined someone who had worked hard all his life in relative obscurity, someone with unfulfilled dreams—perhaps of the degree he never attained, the career he never pursued, the company he never started.

A man I assumed to be her husband murmured almost inaudibly in response, something to the effect of “I wish I was dead.”Again, the woman: “Oh, stop saying that.”To hear more feature stories, see our full list or get the Audm i Phone app. I listened with morbid fascination, forming an image of the man in my head as they talked.

Consider professional athletes, many of whom struggle profoundly after their sports career ends.

Tragic examples abound, involving depression, addiction, or suicide; unhappiness in retired athletes may even be the norm, at least temporarily.

Standing at the door of the cockpit, the pilot stopped him and said, “Sir, I have admired you since I was a little boy.” The older man—apparently wishing for death just a few minutes earlier—beamed with pride at the recognition of his past glories.In The Happiness Curve: Why Life Gets Better After 50, Jonathan Rauch, a Brookings Institution scholar and an Atlantic contributing editor, reviews the strong evidence suggesting that the happiness of most adults declines through their 30s and 40s, then bottoms out in their early 50s.Nothing about this pattern is set in stone, of course.His destiny is to die of bitterness or to search for more success in other careers and to go on living from success to success until he falls dead.In this case, there will not be life after success.”Call it the Principle of Psychoprofessional Gravitation: the idea that the agony of professional oblivion is directly related to the height of professional prestige previously achieved, and to one’s emotional attachment to that prestige.

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