The Happiness Curve: Why Life Gets Better After 50

Jonathan Rauch. St. Martin’s/Dunne, $26.99 (256p) ISBN 978-1-250-07880-3
Journalist Rauch (Political Realism) argues for a “happiness curve” to life—a common, U-shaped path from youthful idealism, through middle-aged disappointment, to eventual happiness—in this inspired take on midlife crises. In researching the topic, Rauch gave interviewees a questionnaire about their satisfaction level at the present and at earlier ages, finding that those in their 40s often describe feeling profoundly dissatisfied, even when there seemed no compelling reason to be so. Older subjects reported feeling the same demoralization during their 40s, but also increased satisfaction at their present age and even a “rebirth of gratitude.” What’s the reason for that return to contentment? It can be multilayered, Rauch says; it may surface as “a sense of mastery.” Or it may be that “settling increases our contentment.” While Rauch provides a few suggestions for getting through the low times—a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables, for instance—it’s the many interviews with survey participants that will provide the most reassurance to readers. They will also take comfort from Rauch’s personal investment in the subject—he has moved through the bottom of his own happiness curve and concludes his heartening self-help book by writing that it was “worth the wait.” (May)
Reviewed on: 02/12/2018
Release date: 05/01/2018
Compact Disc - 978-1-4272-9297-1
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