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The Good News And Bad News Is That Your Midlife Crisis Isn’t Real

If your spouse keeps dismissing all your awesome ideas (“Let’s put the kid on the back of the motorcycle and hit the road!”; “Let’s buy that Audi Iron Man drives!”) as some sort of mid-life crisis, you now have the best-ever comeback: There’s no such thing. That’s according to a massive 10-year study from the MacArthur Foundation, which found that fewer than 10 percent of people actually suffer from sports car-buying and other behavior traditionally associated with guys halfway to being dead.

What might be more real is the “happiness curve,” a theory that suggests people’s sense of well being takes on a “u” shape over the course of their lives. In the U.S., this means your happiness reaches a low point somewhere in your mid-40s, but that’s a bit of a stretch from what Canadian psychoanalyst Elliot James meant when he coined the phrase “mid-life crisis” back in 1965. James was referring to a rare group of artistic geniuses who experienced “existential dread that there was not enough time in their lives to achieve their dreams.” No offense, but the art of fixing the toilet without losing your mind doesn’t qualify you as a rare artistic genius (under-appreciated, yes, just not rare or genius).

Mid-Life Crisis Aren't Real Flickr / Markus Spiske

The good news that the happiness curve is a curve — which means you can expect to get happier as you get older. So, maybe your spouse will be a little amenable to your hair-brained schemes as the two of you age, in which case there’s even more good news: Your biggest creative breakthroughs may be ahead of you, as well.