The happier I get, the older I feel

Quadranting was mildly cheered, over the weekend, to read this article on Naked Capitalism about the “mid-life low” phenomenon.

As a physically sprightly but otherwise pretty morose sixty something, it’s good to know my life has entered a phase of rising  self-satisfaction.

Look at this graph from the UK Office of National Statistics. It charts how happy 416,000 of my fellow civic elements are with their lives at various ages:

midlifeUK

(Source)

Seems I’ve made it through the Slough of Despond that is the average human’s mid-50s and am now roaring back to a state of happiness on par with my early twenties. Yes, those early 20s when I was beset by powerful feelings of insecurity and inferiority. The age when I really began to forge an early adulthood full of bad choices. Wrong jobs. Wrong partners. Wrong everything.

But hey, that peak of happiness is still to come for me … when or if I hit 73ish. Right now, my life satisfaction (assuming it follows the curve on the chart) is roughly back up to where it was in my mid-30s. Yay! Divorce. Redundancy. Formal depression diagnosis. Worse job choice ever. Who could want for more?

Yet I do feel better about life than I did six or seven years ago. The only way I got past that low point was to promise myself I wouldn’t force myself to stay alive past 65 unless I felt a whole lot better by then. Who knows: perhaps I will? Just like baked beans, 416,000 other people can’t all be wrong.

After all, not a lot of rationality goes into one’s assessment of how good one’s life is. Since my own ‘happy’ 20s, the world’s gone into population overshoot, passed peak oil, entered the structural crisis of capitalism and turned the climate knob to 11.

Who could be happy about that? Well, me of course. I can’t help it: I’m 61.

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