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This book will change your life by showing you how life changes.
Why does happiness get harder in your 40s? Why do you feel in a slump even when you're successful? Where does this malaise come from? And, most importantly, will it ever end?
Drawing on cutting-edge research, award-winning journalist Jonathan Rauch answers all these questions. He shows that from our 20s into our 40s, happiness follows a well-documented U-shaped trajectory, a "happiness curve", declining from the optimism of youth into what's often a long, low trough in middle age, before starting to rise again in our 50s.
This isn't a midlife crisis, though. Rauch reveals that this downturn is instead a natural stage of life – and an essential one. By shifting priorities away from competition and toward compassion, you can equip yourself with new tools of wisdom and gratitude to head positively into your later years.
And Rauch can testify to this personally – it was his own slump, despite acclaim as a journalist and commentator that compelled him to investigate the happiness curve. His own story and the stories of many others from all walks of life – from a steelworker and a limo driver to a telecoms executive and a philanthropist – show how the ordeal of midlife malaise can reboot our values and even our brains for a rebirth of gratitude.
Full of insights and eye-opening data, and featuring practical ways to endure the dip and avoid its perils and traps, The Happiness Curve doesn't just show you the dark forest of midlife, it helps you find a path through the trees.
Journalist Rauch (Political Realism) argues for a "happiness curve" to life a common, U-shaped path from youthful idealism, through middle-aged disappointment, to eventual happiness in this inspired take on midlife crises. In researching the topic, Rauch gave interviewees a questionnaire about their satisfaction level at the present and at earlier ages, finding that those in their 40s often describe feeling profoundly dissatisfied, even when there seemed no compelling reason to be so. Older subjects reported feeling the same demoralization during their 40s, but also increased satisfaction at their present age and even a "rebirth of gratitude." What's the reason for that return to contentment? It can be multilayered, Rauch says; it may surface as "a sense of mastery." Or it may be that "settling increases our contentment." While Rauch provides a few suggestions for getting through the low times a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables, for instance it's the many interviews with survey participants that will provide the most reassurance to readers. They will also take comfort from Rauch's personal investment in the subject he has moved through the bottom of his own happiness curve and concludes his heartening self-help book by writing that it was "worth the wait."