The Big Middle

Jonathan Rauch

Episode Summary

Why 50 is the gateway to happiness

Episode Notes

Subscribers to The Big Middle will have heard just about every guest mention the U-curve of happiness.
Along the life course, social and brain science shows the curve is happy-miserable-happy not - as you might have surmised - happy-miserable-more miserable until the end.

Perplexed when he had his own midlife slump, my guest went into deep research mode and wrote a book about it. American Jonathan Rauch is a print journalist of distinction - the best broadsheets, the best news magazines. The book, his sixth, is the hot seller The Happiness Curve: Why Life Gets Better After 50. Susan reached him his home in north Virginia.

Hear what when:

“I knew it was irrational at that point and knew I had to start looking for answers. It was not depression.. It was a contentment disorder, completely normal, but I didn’t know that.”

“People think this is supposed to be an invulnerable time of life but in fact it is a highly vulnerable time of life when we need more support, not less support.”

What seems to be happening... is a transition period from the values of early adulthood , which are focused on ambition and social competition the values of the later decades of life.. nurturing connecting, community - much better values to making human beings happy in life.”

“If people understood that 50 is the gateway to two, three, eventually four decades of healthy, emotionally-satisfying life, they wouldn’t feel that sudden pressure to be on top of the world and feel much better about ageing.”

“Time is on your side. As long as this slump can seem to go on - it seems eternal - but just when it seems like it will never end, that’s when it starts to end. And there’s actual science about why that would be the case. Be patient. Time will help you.”


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