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. It also demonstrates how we can – and why we must – do more to help each other through the woods. Midlife is a journey we mustn't walk alone.
About the Author
Jonathan Rauch is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington and a contributing editor of The Atlantic. He has also written for The New Republic, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post, among many other publications. He lives with his husband in Washington, DC.
Fascinating and even uplifting * The Guardian *
This brilliant book is chock full of unexpected findings, revelatory insights, and consoling wisdom about aging, happiness, and the stages of life. I would say that everyone in his or her forties should read it--it will be a soothing balm for those in the dark wood of middle age--but that's too limiting: really, every thinking adult should read this stimulating intellectual adventure story, which is also a genuinely helpful guidebook to life * Scott Stossel, author of My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind and editor of The Atlantic *
Essential reading for everyone over 40 * George E. Vaillant M.D., Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School *
By supplanting dated cliches with compelling scholarship, Rauch offers a fresh and reassuring vision of aging that supersedes superficial fixations. * The Washington Post *
Fascinating... powerful and uplifting... The Happiness Curve is filled with useful, interesting facts and shows us how to steer through the different stages of life * The Lady *
Rauch fills his book with reassuring research on why a midlife malaise is normal, as well as some sound lessons on how to cultivate happiness in general * Wall Street Journal *
A great reminder that our happiness is not set in stone and growing older can be something to look forward to * Dr Mark Williamson, Director of Action for Happiness *