Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 02-11-2020, 09:04 AM
Hermitian's Avatar
Hermitian is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 2,730

People are most unhappy at 47. Why do you think?


There were a bunch of articles that came out reporting on a broad study that showed people (on average) hit their lowest happiness at age 47. People (on average) are happier before that and after that.

I am going to broaden that a bit to make it more applicable. Let's say 45-50. Why do you think people are the least happy at 45-50? I am only in my late 30's so I am interested in your answers.

I am going to give my guesses:

1. Taking care of someone else is essential for many people and gives them a sense of purpose. The kids are teenagers, or out of the home. The ability to "take care" of them is rapidly vaporizing (except for money). For couples that started earlier, their kids may have already moved far away for jobs and they are experiencing a low point in their interaction with them.
2. Many people are starting to look at the person that they married 20-25 years ago and thinking about how they have changed. Many people get divorced around this time.
3. People are boosted by the feeling of opportunity and that they are "getting somewhere." Before this age, their careers were more likely to be advancing, but now it has plateaued. If they are not moving to upper management, they are probably stuck wherever they are.
4. They have been working for 25+ years and are just mentally tired. The drudgery is unrelenting. Retirement is still too far away to seem like a light at the end of the tunnel.
5. They start to realize that life is fleeting. Body is starting to break down even more.

After this period (50+), things get better because:

1. Grandkids start to come or are getting closer. Along with this, their relationship with their own kids becomes more common and warm.
2. They get something new to take care of, a little yappy dog named Fifi.
3. They either conclude they are happy enough with their partner, find a new (hopefully better) one, or decide they are happy enough with the freedom of singleness.
4. They can start to see the retirement light at the end of the tunnel.
5. They come to terms with older age.
  #2  
Old 02-11-2020, 09:26 AM
pullin is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: N Texas
Posts: 3,211
I think it's pretty accurate. It almost perfectly tracks the points where your kids are in high school. Peak misery occurs if you have >1 kid going through those years. I've read articles about this curve, and find that for me the shape is accurate, but the years are off since we had kids later.

My life was somewhat atypical, and there's a misery peak during my early twenties, but my highest misery occurs during the 8 horrible years of kids in high school. I would never, ever want to return to that time.

Last edited by pullin; 02-11-2020 at 09:27 AM.
  #3  
Old 02-11-2020, 09:30 AM
DCnDC's Avatar
DCnDC is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: The Dueling Grounds
Posts: 13,484
I'll let you know in about 5 years.
  #4  
Old 02-11-2020, 09:31 AM
Darren Garrison's Avatar
Darren Garrison is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2016
Posts: 12,718
I'm actually 47 right now, and I'm fine.
  #5  
Old 02-11-2020, 09:41 AM
Oredigger77 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Back at 5,280
Posts: 5,300
That's about a decade away for me and at my recent birthday my parents were asking me if I was depressed over not making something of my life yet*. I can see the realization coming for a lot of people in another decade that whatever your life is at that point is how its going to stay you're out of years to start over.


*I only own my own business with a successful wife, two wonderful kids and we own a home in a great place.
  #6  
Old 02-11-2020, 09:41 AM
Corry El is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 4,163
Like a lot of social 'science' study findings could be true on average and irrelevant to me. Which I think this one is. Early 60's now, not as happy as late 40's. Generally very fortunate, well aware of it, and not unhappy. But at 47 I didn't feel any older than when I was genuinely young. Now I do. And there haven't been any fundamental changes in stuff like stress of employment or family matters to push it much the other way.
  #7  
Old 02-11-2020, 10:05 AM
bump is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Dallas, TX
Posts: 19,163
I think it's the age when multiple stressors are working in conjunction with each other. Basically a ll of what Hermitian already pointed out, plus one he didn't- around 47, most people's parents really start showing their age and start shifting from providing help/advice to needing help/advice.

Personally, I think that #3 on Hermitian's list is a huge, under-valued one. I'm 47, and I recall that pretty much from my earliest memories through about my late 30s, I felt like the sky was the limit, and there was a limitless supply of cool, awesome stuff out there that I could experience/do/find. If things seemed bad at the moment, I could always look to the future and feel optimistic/reassured. In my mid-30s, I got married, and a couple of years later, my wife and I had our first kid, and the outlook subtly changed. Things feel more constrained than they used to- most alternative paths in my career, where I live, etc... are now pretty much locked in, barring some sort of major move/change. Being able to see the trajectory of the next 20 or so years and seeing more potential negatives than positives is kind of a drag.

And the parents aging is another one that I think is underrated; at some point over the past 5 years or so, there's been something of a swap of fundamental roles- now I worry about them and try and help them, instead of the other way around. I think around 47, most everyone's parents are in their late 60s or older and are probably starting to have some kind of chronic illness related issues, or just plain old age is starting to accelerate, and that is both disturbing and requires more concern/worry than we used to spend on them.
  #8  
Old 02-11-2020, 10:44 AM
monstro is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Richmond, VA
Posts: 21,210
My parents were in their mid-40s when I was a teenager. I suspect this is the case for lots of parents. Teenagers in general are not known for being nice living companions.

Sent from my moto x4 using Tapatalk
__________________
What the hell is a signature?
  #9  
Old 02-11-2020, 10:56 AM
Velocity is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2014
Posts: 16,568
I suspect it's because it's the age at which you can still do almost anything, but due to circumstances most likely can't do anything. For instance, you may still be physically attractive to get a mate, but are now trapped in an unhappy marriage. You may still be young enough to do a huge career change for your dream occupation, but circumstances won't permit.
  #10  
Old 02-11-2020, 11:13 AM
FinsToTheLeft is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Toronto, Ontario
Posts: 643
I'm about 6 weeks away from the big 5-0, so I'm through this age.

From my perspective, it's an age where things can get a little more financially complicated. With (at the time) two pre-teens, the expenses - camp, activities, clothes, etc. - really start to add up. In addition, there is the sandwich effect of sick parents, not enough free time with your spouse, etc. I also had a health crisis that was just resolving at 47.

That being said, at 49 I'm pretty happy and in retrospect don't see myself as significantly less happy at 47.
  #11  
Old 02-11-2020, 11:55 AM
bobkitty is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: The end of the tunnel
Posts: 3,501
My husband came into the living room the other day with one of these articles, laughing his ass off because he had done the math.

At 47.2 (the peak of peak unhappiness) I was diagnosed with both basal cell carcinoma and a "massive" spinal tumor, and was in process of being scheduled for surgeries to have them removed. Basal cell out in November, spinal tumor out in December, still going through post-op recovery.

So yes, I would say that the calculation is correct.
  #12  
Old 02-11-2020, 12:23 PM
Little Nemo is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Western New York
Posts: 84,282
Quote:
Originally Posted by Oredigger77 View Post
That's about a decade away for me and at my recent birthday my parents were asking me if I was depressed over not making something of my life yet*. I can see the realization coming for a lot of people in another decade that whatever your life is at that point is how its going to stay you're out of years to start over.
I think this is it. I feel that people can still dream about major life changes when they're in their twenties and thirties. They can still think things like "I'm going to have children some day" or "I'm going to own my own business some day". The future still holds the possibility of major opportunities.

But at some point in their late forties, most people are going to realize the time for major changes like this has passed. You realize that you're never going to start doing the big things that you haven't done by now. The rest of your life is just going to be playing out the things you've already started.

The realization can hit you hard. But once you've reached it, you can move beyond it and develop a sense of acceptance and appreciation for the life you have rather than anticipation for the life you only dreamed about.
  #13  
Old 02-11-2020, 01:31 PM
Die Capacitrix's Avatar
Die Capacitrix is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2019
Location: Switzerland
Posts: 331
4 weeks to 40.

My parents are getting older and I'm not ready to move to take care of them. I may not be ever ready, especially as both my husband and I would be unemployed. It's not possible to bring them here.

No kids, so no grandkids.

We're currently both sick with colds. We don't bounce back as fast as we used to, plus we both have mentally demanding jobs.

Otherwise? Pretty darn good. I don't see a big difference in happiness between 2-3 years ago and now.
  #14  
Old 02-11-2020, 02:02 PM
Shodan is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Milky Way Galaxy
Posts: 40,557
Quote:
Originally Posted by Oredigger77 View Post
That's about a decade away for me and at my recent birthday my parents were asking me if I was depressed over not making something of my life yet*. I can see the realization coming for a lot of people in another decade that whatever your life is at that point is how its going to stay you're out of years to start over.


*I only own my own business with a successful wife, two wonderful kids and we own a home in a great place.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
I think this is it. I feel that people can still dream about major life changes when they're in their twenties and thirties. They can still think things like "I'm going to have children some day" or "I'm going to own my own business some day". The future still holds the possibility of major opportunities.

But at some point in their late forties, most people are going to realize the time for major changes like this has passed. You realize that you're never going to start doing the big things that you haven't done by now. The rest of your life is just going to be playing out the things you've already started.

The realization can hit you hard. But once you've reached it, you can move beyond it and develop a sense of acceptance and appreciation for the life you have rather than anticipation for the life you only dreamed about.
And not just career.

I would be interested to see how this correlates to divorce. 47 is old enough to have been divorced at least once, and then to either have been divorced again, or figuring out that this is as good as it is going to get.

For me, 47 was a long time ago (seventeen years, AAMOF). And it was a period where I was entering into my peak earning part of my career, and also the highest stress part of my career. I was making a lot of money, but it was very stressful. Now I am sort of cruising towards retirement, or some semblance thereof, and my income hasn't gone down but my stress level has.

But yes - I guess this is what I was going to be when I grew up, and it is way too late to change my mind. And this is the woman I am going to be married to until I die. Ok with me.

Regards,
Shodan, Crotchety Oldster
  #15  
Old 02-11-2020, 02:24 PM
Cheesesteak's Avatar
Cheesesteak is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Lovely Montclair, NJ
Posts: 13,984
I'm just a bit past that age now, and I could see how it could be a down time.

I've been continuously employed for 25 straight years, and feel blessed because of that, but it also means I haven't been away from work for more than 2 weeks. It does kind of wear you down.

My son is a tween, a bit on the young side for someone my age, and I haven't hit the hard part of the teen years, so I've got a bit of a break there.

The idea that the sky is the limit for me, that I have endless time to do the things I want, is long past.

I'm actually not depressed, I have a good paying job that isn't terribly stressful, I still like my wife, and my kid isn't a giant tool, but I there are valid reasons for this time of life to be difficult.
  #16  
Old 02-11-2020, 03:04 PM
Machine Elf is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Challenger Deep
Posts: 12,608
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hermitian View Post
5. They start to realize that life is fleeting. Body is starting to break down even more.
This is a big one. There was a hypothetical commencement speech by Mary Schmich (later turned in a song) which included the following piece of advice:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mary Schmich
Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they've faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you'll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can't grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked.
At 47, you're probably about halfway through your adult life - and you've already lived the half that featured better health. If you were lucky, your first half included vigorous athletic endeavors, boundless energy, and a general sense of physical and mental well-being. Your second half is where any bad habits you had during the first half are going to catch up to you. And even folks who had good habits during the first half are going to decay mentally and physically - hopefully slowly, but it will happen.

I look at myself in the mirror now and see me. I look at pictures of myself from 25 years ago and see someone who looks almost like a stranger - thick lustrous hair, taut skin, powerful muscles. I'm healthy for someone nearing 50, but I'm definitely not what I was. Hard to believe the guy in those photos was me.

Life is fleeting. The first 25-30 years of my adult life is gone. How fast will the next 25-30 years go by? Will I even have another 25-30 years?
  #17  
Old 02-11-2020, 04:06 PM
zimaane is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: washington, dc
Posts: 1,137
It makes sense, both in general terms and my experience in particular.
  #18  
Old 02-11-2020, 04:13 PM
pullin is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: N Texas
Posts: 3,211
Quote:
Originally Posted by bump View Post
IPersonally, I think that #3 on Hermitian's list is a huge, under-valued one. I'm 47, and I recall that pretty much from my earliest memories through about my late 30s, I felt like the sky was the limit, and there was a limitless supply of cool, awesome stuff out there that I could experience/do/find. If things seemed bad at the moment, I could always look to the future and feel optimistic/reassured. In my mid-30s, I got married, and a couple of years later, my wife and I had our first kid, and the outlook subtly changed. Things feel more constrained than they used to- most alternative paths in my career, where I live, etc... are now pretty much locked in, barring some sort of major move/change. Being able to see the trajectory of the next 20 or so years and seeing more potential negatives than positives is kind of a drag.
Many years ago my Mom said aging is just watching the doors (opportunities) close. Every year more of them close permanently as the list of things you'll never do grows.
  #19  
Old 02-11-2020, 04:14 PM
Mallard is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Western Canada
Posts: 421
Our first grandchild was born when I was 47. She's 20 now and the light of our lives. 47 was a great age for me.
  #20  
Old 02-11-2020, 04:22 PM
panache45's Avatar
panache45 is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: NE Ohio (the 'burbs)
Posts: 53,814
At 74, I barely remember being 47. I may have been unhappy almost to the point of suicide, but who remembers?
  #21  
Old 02-11-2020, 04:26 PM
Esprise Me is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2019
Posts: 299
I would be really interested in seeing these results broken down by people who have kids and people who don't, and the first group broken down by the ages of those kids. I can't imagine that doesn't make a difference. I'm willing to bet child-free 47-year-olds are a lot happier, even if those who have kids experienced more total lifetime happiness (which I'm not sure is true, but for the sake of argument.) But if I'm wrong, that would certainly tell us something too.
  #22  
Old 02-11-2020, 04:45 PM
bump is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Dallas, TX
Posts: 19,163
Quote:
Originally Posted by Esprise Me View Post
I would be really interested in seeing these results broken down by people who have kids and people who don't, and the first group broken down by the ages of those kids. I can't imagine that doesn't make a difference. I'm willing to bet child-free 47-year-olds are a lot happier, even if those who have kids experienced more total lifetime happiness (which I'm not sure is true, but for the sake of argument.) But if I'm wrong, that would certainly tell us something too.
I don't know about that; I have children, and they're not a source of unhappiness, per-se. If anything, they're a constant source of hilarity and while they're still young, unconditional love.

It really is an apples and orange sort of comparison in many ways- I don't think people with kids are less happy, they're just a different sort of happy. And I'm not entirely convinced that childless people are necessarily happier- the number of people I know who don't have kids, but who (rather pitifully, IMO) scratch that family itch with absurdly pampered pets and the like is surprisingly high as well. To me, that implies something is missing in their lives if grown people put that much effort and affection into a pet.
  #23  
Old 02-11-2020, 04:57 PM
Esprise Me is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2019
Posts: 299
I think you misunderstood. I allowed for the possibility that children not only don't ruin your life, but actually make you happier. But I'm thinking there's a certain age, which is not when they're small and hilarious, at which they can really bring their parents down, and that may roughly coincide with their parents' late forties. I know I was miserable in middle school, when my parents were pushing 50, and that made them miserable too.
  #24  
Old 02-11-2020, 05:44 PM
monstro is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Richmond, VA
Posts: 21,210
Quote:
Originally Posted by Esprise Me View Post
I think you misunderstood. I allowed for the possibility that children not only don't ruin your life, but actually make you happier. But I'm thinking there's a certain age, which is not when they're small and hilarious, at which they can really bring their parents down, and that may roughly coincide with their parents' late forties. I know I was miserable in middle school, when my parents were pushing 50, and that made them miserable too.
I think that misery is only compounded when you add all the factors in the OP. Like, if you've hit a plateau in your career and come to realize you're never going to increase your income level, you probably won't feel so good about the college tuition checks you'll be expected to write in the coming years. Teenagers can put even more strain on strained marriages. If you're having to deal with your own health problems that are brand new to you and scary because you've always thought they were "old people" diseases, having to look at a pouty-faced teenager at the dinner table probably isn't going to fill you with a zest for life.

A lot of people enter upper management in their mid-40s. Having to juggle that added pressure while dealing with the challenges of a teenager cannot be easy either.
  #25  
Old 02-11-2020, 05:51 PM
Sicks Ate is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: KS, US
Posts: 6,832
I think if that's the case, I am REALLY not looking forward to the next few years, considering how the last few went.
  #26  
Old 02-11-2020, 06:14 PM
Broomstick's Avatar
Broomstick is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: NW Indiana
Posts: 29,720
Quote:
Originally Posted by Esprise Me View Post
I would be really interested in seeing these results broken down by people who have kids and people who don't, and the first group broken down by the ages of those kids. I can't imagine that doesn't make a difference. I'm willing to bet child-free 47-year-olds are a lot happier, even if those who have kids experienced more total lifetime happiness (which I'm not sure is true, but for the sake of argument.) But if I'm wrong, that would certainly tell us something too.
Not having kids has some downsides, too. For one thing, I'm not going to have my kids helping me in my old age because they don't exist.

My spouse and I never had children. On the other hand, between 45 and 55 I had eight of my family die. Combine that sort of die-off with being squeezed from the other end by kids/teens/young adults and you'll know why that age range is called the "sandwich generation". You wind up taking care of both young and old relatives. (Unless you don't have relatives, which can be another sort of stress).

Because we never had children we wound up taking on more of the elder care than might have otherwise been the case, so it's not like we escaped responsibility in any way.

Starting in your mid-40's you also start slowing down due to your own aging, but feel pressure to keep up with the younger folks. The result is often lots of stress, lots of work, and not enough sleep/rest.
  #27  
Old 02-11-2020, 09:20 PM
Green Bean is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: NJ, Exit #137
Posts: 12,181
This post made me happier than I was before I saw it. I知 not alone! I知 48 and I知 fucking miserable.

I知 dealing with lots of stuff that others have mentioned and a weird complicated case of thyroid cancer. (I値l be fine - my oncologist told me I was going to die, but not from this. I like my oncologist)

I could make you a list as long as you want of the wonderful things in my life...but still, overall, things kind of suck.
  #28  
Old 02-11-2020, 09:35 PM
Sicks Ate is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: KS, US
Posts: 6,832
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sicks Ate View Post
I think if that's the case, I am REALLY not looking forward to the next few years, considering how the last few went.
Or the next 24 hours, for that matter.
  #29  
Old 02-11-2020, 09:55 PM
Esprise Me is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2019
Posts: 299
Quote:
Originally Posted by Broomstick View Post
Not having kids has some downsides, too. For one thing, I'm not going to have my kids helping me in my old age because they don't exist.
Is this thing on? Yes, of course there can be downsides to not having kids. I specifically acknowledged this. My hypothesis was that at that point in a parent's life, the bad may outweigh the good enough to account for a dip in happiness around age 47. If the statistics were broken out as I said I'd like to see, and they showed that, actually, childless folks experience a greater or equal decrease in happiness at that age, then we'd all know I'm full of it. But if the statistics showed this happiness valley happens mostly to parents of tweens and teens, while people who reproduced earlier got hit with the sad earlier and people who had kids later tracked similarly with their kids' age, and childless people didn't hate their lives until they were much older than 47 and had no one to wipe their sorry wrinkled butts, then I would be right, wouldn't I? Sheesh.
  #30  
Old 02-11-2020, 10:42 PM
Gatopescado is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: on your last raw nerve
Posts: 23,312
Marriage
  #31  
Old 02-11-2020, 11:02 PM
nelliebly is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Location: Washington
Posts: 2,546
47 was miserable for me, but I'm an outlier. I was miserable because I was in an hellacious marriage and had to try to tough it out until my younger kid, who was 12 at the time, graduated high school. I was with teens all day--taught HS--and loved it, so teen-age kids weren't a stressor for me. They actually brightened my life, as did my daughter and my college-student son. I think I would have been pretty happy if I'd been in a reasonably happy marriage to a reasonably normal person.

I suspect for some people, 47 is the equivalent of the "sophomore slump": you still have a long way to go until retirement age, you may not be where you thought you'd be when kid-you imagined your adult life, yet any dreams of being a millionaire by 40 or starring in a music video or whatever you fantasize about are clearly not happening.

Or it could be that that's the median unhappy age, and some people hit that nadir at 25 and some at 69.
  #32  
Old 02-11-2020, 11:13 PM
JRDelirious is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Displaced
Posts: 16,176
Eh, my 40s were quite fine, to tell the truth. Still behind my 30s but not by much. It's my 50s that have turned out not so much unhappy as infuriating.
  #33  
Old 02-11-2020, 11:29 PM
thorny locust's Avatar
thorny locust is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2019
Location: Upstate New York
Posts: 1,802
FWIW, I was a whole lot happier in my 40's (or now, for that matter) than I was in my teens.
  #34  
Old 02-12-2020, 03:30 AM
msmith537 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
Posts: 27,894
Yeah, it's called a "mid life crisis".


I suspect (being 47 myself) that a lot of it has to do with taking stock of where your life is after 20+ years of wherever you are at with career, kids, marriage, relationships, family and whatnot and realizing that your life is no longer about working towards some "future" version of that life. Which is not to say that you can't change things. But often changing those things require certain sacrifices that people are often unwilling to make. .i.e. tossing away a 20 year "ok" marriage or career to maybe date again in your late 40s or start a potentially financially risky venture.

Basically the realization you can do anything you want to in life, but you can't do EVERYTHING you want to.
  #35  
Old 02-12-2020, 05:40 AM
Toxylon is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 1,244
Our (non-US) national most likely age to commit suicide is 49. It jives well with the studies linked in the OP. Being 43, these findings intrigue me.

I'm a father of two. By the time I'm 47, my kids are in their mid- to late teens. By the time I'm 50, they'll be young adults. I guess one could feel their job in that regard is done, mistakes and all.

Health-wise, I've already had to face the fact that I'm no longer young, yet older people tell me that I ain't seen nothing yet. Aches and pains and pretty likely serious illness loom ahead.

I'm experiencing the first whiffs of ageism, and like health, it'll only get worse. Here, people over 50 have real difficulties getting employed, no matter their education and experience.

I have only faint ties to my parents, but if I didn't, the ongoing news about cancer, pacemakers, osteporosis, elderly care plans etc. would surely get to me.

All in all, plenty of reasons to feel like shit.
  #36  
Old 02-12-2020, 05:51 AM
Toxylon is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 1,244
Too late to edit:

Quote:
Yeah, it's called a "mid life crisis".
I have experienced mid-life crisis quite strongly, but I view it as a definite positive. Realizing that objectively, one half of my life is gone (subjectively much more than that), time goes faster and faster and my faculties, opportunities and stamina have a shelf life has made me Carpe Diem and prioritize like never before. I'm getting shit done and making dreams a reality.

Last edited by Toxylon; 02-12-2020 at 05:53 AM.
  #37  
Old 02-12-2020, 06:10 AM
actualliberalnotoneofthose is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 2,527
I'm 41 and I expect to be happier every year until I expire. My absolute worst points, when I truly wanted to die were 13 (severe school anxiety and bullying), 22 (bad breakup and kicked out of home, went on impromptu road trip where I spent all my savings 1000s of miles from home and planned to die), 31 (marital breakdown where all my worst fears and things i'm sure no one would ever believe came true). Around 33 I almost died and some time between there and 38 I really developed the skill to go through anything that didn't kill me and feel just fine. Right now i'm doing my best in just about every way possible and improve in multiple areas every day. Perhaps I will reach a breaking point at 47. I guess life is worth living to find out.
  #38  
Old 02-12-2020, 06:48 AM
elfkin477 is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: NH
Posts: 22,973
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sicks Ate View Post
I think if that's the case, I am REALLY not looking forward to the next few years, considering how the last few went.
Yeah...I'm hoping a lot of the unhappiness in your late 40s has something to do with the stress of your parents declining. I've dealt with that all the way to the end already, and that at least won't be putting a damper on my life in 4+ years.
  #39  
Old 02-12-2020, 09:21 AM
bump is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Dallas, TX
Posts: 19,163
Quote:
Originally Posted by monstro View Post
I think that misery is only compounded when you add all the factors in the OP. Like, if you've hit a plateau in your career and come to realize you're never going to increase your income level, you probably won't feel so good about the college tuition checks you'll be expected to write in the coming years. Teenagers can put even more strain on strained marriages. If you're having to deal with your own health problems that are brand new to you and scary because you've always thought they were "old people" diseases, having to look at a pouty-faced teenager at the dinner table probably isn't going to fill you with a zest for life.

A lot of people enter upper management in their mid-40s. Having to juggle that added pressure while dealing with the challenges of a teenager cannot be easy either.
I think you just hit the nail on the head. No one of those issues is overwhelming by itself- as a matter of fact, taken individually, each is pretty tractable.

It's the combination of all of them hitting at once that tends to make the mid/late forties a difficult time for most people, with (IMO) the parental decline and personal psychological realizations being the biggest two by far.
  #40  
Old 02-12-2020, 10:34 AM
overlyverbose is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: STLMO
Posts: 6,409
I think this is a pretty good summary with the parental caretaking thrown in. It's also around the age that a lot of people really begin to feel the effects of chronic illnesses and, especially if they're lifestyle related, they require more work to keep at bay. Think of heart disease, diabetes, respiratory illnesses, depression, arthritis - many of these require a shit ton of work to manage, but you're already doing a shit ton of work managing other things.

I think by the time you reach your 60s (again, just an opinion) most people have gotten to the point where they're not doing constant caretaking, they're able to focus on themselves more and feel like they have more choice. Again, just a theory.
  #41  
Old 02-13-2020, 09:20 AM
Razncain is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: TX & CO
Posts: 1,756
Quote:
Originally Posted by overlyverbose View Post
I think by the time you reach your 60s (again, just an opinion) most people have gotten to the point where they're not doing constant caretaking, they're able to focus on themselves more and feel like they have more choice. Again, just a theory.
For many it's just beginning with elderly parents aging, and figuring out how to cope with them without it bankrupting everybody.
  #42  
Old 02-13-2020, 09:23 AM
Razncain is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: TX & CO
Posts: 1,756
47 was 14 years ago for me, and it marked one of my best years ever. I had walked out of my last factory at 42, started my own biz, was barely making it until about 3 years later, when it really took off. At 47 entered into one of my best relationships, and she had the greatest kids too, that made it even better. Had other things that got in our way, but really didn't have anything to do with her or me.

At 61, taking care of an elderly parent at 89 with full-blown dementia with sundowners that has kept me and my two brothers in a holding pattern for the last eight years and counting. It's often extremely challenging, cost me relationships, but it's still going to take a lot more than that to get me down.

But 47 being a bad year, perish the thought, for me, one of the best and happiest years that I can look back with the fondest of memories, and the people that came into my life that year.
  #43  
Old 02-13-2020, 09:56 AM
FairyChatMom's Avatar
FairyChatMom is offline
I'm nice, dammit!
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Southern Merrylande
Posts: 42,749
Lessee - at 45 I got my first progressive tri-focal glasses, and my gallbladder was yanked out. At 50, we bought the house where we're now living. During those years, we made long-distance moves twice and our daughter started college. They were crazy, somewhat frantic years, but I don't recall any particular unhappiness.

Then again, I turned 47 in 2001. Not so much unhappy as "OMG What's happening in the world???"
  #44  
Old 02-13-2020, 12:00 PM
snowthx's Avatar
snowthx is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Sacratomato area
Posts: 3,672
I don't remember 47 all that distinctly. Both of my parents died in my early 40s, so I think those were my most unhappy and stressful years, and I still feel like I am climbing back out of that dark time 10 years later.

I never took my job as a career so never had high expectations there, altho recently I have felt the heavy hand of doubt regarding not stretching more at work - people younger than me and more driven are at higher levels, and my friends of the same age are all muckety-mucks at their companies, while I am still a corporate drone.

Right now I have a kid in college and another starting next year, so this should be interesting from a finance perspective, but I would not say the prospect of having two kids in college at one time is stressing me out all that much. I think I was more stressed when they were both under 10.

I don't have any serious health issues and I am still pretty active. Slower than when I was in my 20s, but still moving. I recently revitalized my travel bug, and now that I have resources (that I did not in my 20s), I feel like I need to scratch that itch now while I still have health and a steady income. So, I am optimistic about the future.
  #45  
Old 02-13-2020, 12:31 PM
Machine Elf is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Challenger Deep
Posts: 12,608
Quote:
Originally Posted by Razncain View Post
But 47 being a bad year, perish the thought...
I don't think the articles the OP cites are suggsting that people have one terrible year at age 47, and all the other years are swell. Rather, I think the claim is that the long, slow arc of happiness/unhappiness across one's life tends to gradually dip toward a broad minimum centered somewhere around 47 before gently climbing back to to a state of relative serenity in later years.
  #46  
Old 02-13-2020, 01:28 PM
RealityChuck's Avatar
RealityChuck is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: Schenectady, NY, USA
Posts: 43,274
Well, I was very happy during that decade of my life. I had a good job, my daughter was a delight, and I was selling short stories pretty regularly.
__________________
"If a person saying he was something was all there was to it, this country'd be full of rich men and good-looking women. Too bad it isn't that easy.... In short, when someone else says you're a writer, that's when you're a writer... not before."
Purveyor of fine science fiction since 1982.
  #47  
Old 02-13-2020, 01:45 PM
FairyChatMom's Avatar
FairyChatMom is offline
I'm nice, dammit!
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Southern Merrylande
Posts: 42,749
Quote:
Originally Posted by Machine Elf View Post
<snip> to a state of relative serenity in later years.
I read this as a state of relative senility... good thing my new glasses are ready for pickup today!
  #48  
Old 02-13-2020, 03:26 PM
Razncain is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: TX & CO
Posts: 1,756
Here is their chart that shows happiness levels still going up in their fifties, sixties, seventies and eighties and gives a little more insight with this longer article. It did show that Ukrainians are at their most miserable at 62. For the Swiss at 35.

I would think loneliness is a major factor for seniors, especially for many whose health has seriously deteriorated, on fixed incomes, many loved ones have gone, they are also in a higher group of suicides. I'm not sure how their charts continue on average show an upward spike of happiness after supposedly averaging out at 47 for the lowest. One-third of Americans have Alzheimer's in their mid-eighties, IIRC. And if their spouse is still alive, being a caretaker full-time is no picnic when chances are they may be needing some help themselves.

I did see on the chart that said, self-reported so I guess that many get skipped, and I think would be a major flaw in their methodology. But I only did a cursory drive-by, am no statistician, maybe others understand it better.
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 12:54 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@straightdope.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright ゥ 2019 STM Reader, LLC.

 
Copyright © 2017