I recently read a really interesting article published in the New York Times last month about the trials and tribulations of adding more candles to your birthday cake.
The article revealed some fascinating facts from a recent study about the emotional reality of hitting certain “big” birthdays:
“This week a massive American-British study of some two million souls throughout 80 countries confirms, empirically, that middle age immiserates us all without regard to income, culture, gender, marital status or previous experience. The study offers a new visual to illustrate the overarching mood swing of life: the U-Curve, in which mental stability and happiness bottoms out in our 40s and into our 50s. We then get more cheerful as we round the curve and head into the final stretch. In the U.S., women hit bottom at 40 and men at 50, according to the study.”
Although this British-American study does not tell us how to recognize those “big” birthday blues syndromes or how to deal with them it does seem that identifying and acknowledging them is important: aka admitting that you might be feeling very blue and melancholic because you’re about to turn 40 or 50 might help quite a lot.
Turning those big pivotal corners can affect your confidence to the core, but when you combine this with other changes that can range from turmoil with your job, career, marital status or the lost of friends and family members … it can really make for an unpleasant “big” birthday month or even “big” birthday year.
Another thing that I thought was quite thought-provoking about the New York Times article was when the author suggests that:
“One suspects that, with women and men both, midlife is a time when the mirage of life’s perfectibility and symmetry, as envisioned in one’s youth, comes back to trouble you like a conscience. In plain language, one might call it a last chance at happiness, or of “getting it right.”
Maybe that’s why these “big” birthdays seem so scary to some of us … maybe it’s the idea that 20 or 30 years have passed since we were in the prime of our youth and we still have so many things that we want to achieve and have not accomplished and maybe it might be a time where we’re not feeling as cocky and indestructible as we once did and we start questioning many of the decisions that got us to where we are at today.
These are all “guesstimates” on my part. That said, I found this to be a revealing study that I thought I needed to share with you. We all hear that voice of uncertainty when turning 30 and then 35 and I suspect that for some of us that voice might just be shouting a little louder as we turn 40, 45 or 55.
I think that’s why I’ve created 360° after 40 because I’ll be honest, I’m not certain what life will look like when you hit 40, but I figured that if I try to find positive role models than it might be easier to keep everything into perspective and it will prevent me from focusing on a number that really has nothing to do with your state of mind.
You can read the full New York Times story: The Midlife Blues
‘360° after 40’ is a celebration of your first monumental accomplishments after 40 (if you’ve passed 40) or your DESIRED ‘first monumental accomplishments after 40’ (if you’ve not yet added 40 candles on your birthday cake). Thanks for sharing!
Photo by Christiane Michaud
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