By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
New research by Tel Aviv University has found that middle-aged people are far more upbeat and balanced than previously thought, which belies the myth of the mid-life crisis.
FoxNews.com is reporting that research done by psychologist Carlo Strenger of Tel Aviv University found that mid-life can be one of the happiest times in a person’s life.
“At this point we have surveys of around 1,500 [middle-aged] people,” Strenger told LiveScience. “Most of them actually say that they are better off and happier and more balanced than they were when they were 20 years younger. It’s quite surprising.”
The concept of the mid-life crisis was developed 40 years ago by psychologist Elliot Jacques who thought middle-aged people became depressed as mortality loomed closer and responded by trying to recapture their youth through affairs with younger partners, buying new clothes, sports cars, etc. But the new study points to a much different mind-set in this age group.
“People are so used to thinking of mid-life as basically a period of loss that it often does become a self-fulfilling prophecy,” Strenger said. ‘But some people, you really see that they begin to blossom, they begin to be more fruitful. They do things on a larger scale.”
In the past, life expectancy was lower and people’s health was generally lower than it is now, which may have prompted some to develop a less positive attitude toward life in their middle years. But many of the people he surveyed had more mature and balanced views about life now that they had weathered some of the demands of a career and raising a family.
“When you are 50, statistically you have as many adult years ahead of you as you have behind you,” Strenger said. “It really takes time to internalize what that really means. It would mean that this whole lifetime that you have behind you, you have ahead of you, and the question is what you want to do with it.”
During this time of life, many people decide to stop putting off their dreams and embark on new paths in life with knowledge and experience, rather than just blind youthful ambition. As a result, life is more exciting and fulfilling.
“Give yourself the chance to truly reassess your choices and to see how you can now use your self-knowledge and live a much more meaningful life than you’ve lived before. Mid-life can be the moment where you can truly realize your dreams because you know yourself much better.”
Strenger’s research was published in a recent issue of the journal Psychoanalytic Psychology.
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