WTF Fun Fact 13331 – The Midlife Slump

Some people tend to feel a sense of existential dread, sadness, or disappointment in life in their 40s or 50s. But this “midlife slump” is perfectly normal. Just don’t confuse it with the caricature of the midlife crisis where everyone runs out and buys red sports cars or has affairs.

Studying the midlife slump

According to research, people in “middle age” often experience a dip in happiness and life satisfaction between the ages of 40 and 50. One study even pinpointed the most miserable age – 47.2. Of course, that’s just an average, so don’t plan for it. The good news is this dip is usually temporary. In fact, after the slump is over, people tend to become happier as they age.

The midlife dip in happiness is caused by a combination of factors. The reality of an aging body, financial pressure, having to take care of both children and elders and the plain old realization that your life is half over (if you’re lucky). It seems to be all downhill from there.

Bouncing back

However, studies also find that people tend to rebound from the midlife slump with gusto. And they become happier as they age. In fact, one study found that people tend to be happiest in their 70s and 80s! Apparently, a sore body is no match for the satisfaction brought by wisdom. With age comes greater contentment and well-being!

So if you’re feeling a bit blue about hitting the big 4-0 or 5-0, take heart in the fact that the midlife slump is a normal part of the aging process. You can even make it a time for self-reflection and growth rather than drowning in your own misery. Some people use this time to make positive changes in their lives. You might start a new career, pursue a lifelong dream, take stock of your priorities, and begin to surround yourself with the people who matter.

Is a midlife crisis different?

The term “midlife crisis” was first coined in 1965 by psychologist Elliot Jaques. He used it to describe a period of self-doubt and reflection. But it only applied to his male patients. It wasn’t until many decades later that people realized women at this age were also struggling – they just deal with it differently and were more likely to seek help.

The classic “midlife crisis” isn’t a given. But it can be triggered by major life events that typically happen in one’s 40s or 50s. This can include the death of loved ones, divorces, job losses, and a general sense of unfulfillment. People find themselves asking “Is this it”? It’s a bit different from the midlife slump, which is a measure of happiness. And happiness is something internal.

Whatever kind of midlife rut you might find yourself in, take heart in the fact that it may be an opportunity for positive change.

 WTF fun facts

Source: “Your happiness is more likely to hit rock bottom at age 47.2—but there’s an upside, says new research” — CNBC

WTF Fun Fact 12715 – Cherophobia

Anxiety is often irrational, but that doesn’t make it feel less real. However, it becomes a problem when we develop anxiety that interferes with our ability to live life to the fullest.

Take cherophobics for example. Many of us have met people who seem to just refuse to be happy. But those with cherophobia are genuinely concerned that if they do something to make themselves happy, that misery will follow – as if somehow the universe needs to balance out that way.

It’s common to wonder when the other shoe will drop when life is going a bit too well. But those with cherophobia get stressed out at even the thought of having fun.

There’s not a lot of research on the disorder yet, and it has not been added to the DSM to qualify as a mental illness.

But there is one interesting piece of research on cherophobia that gives 4 explanations as to why someone may want to avoid being happy or displaying happiness, and it may depend on culture and upbringing:

  1. A fear that happiness will bring on bad luck
  2. The belief that one doesn’t deserve to be happy while others suffer
  3. The belief that expressing happiness can cause envy in others who will want to prevent your happiness
  4. The idea that pursuing happiness is detrimental to your own soul or to the common good

Frankly, it makes a bit more sense when we see how it may play out in people.

Sadly, cherophobics may not only avoid doing things that make them happy, but they may also pass up opportunities to have meaningful and joyful relationships.

And on that note, we’re going to go call a friend and pour a glass of wine and be thankful for what we have! — WTF fun facts

Source: “Cherophobia Explained: Fear of Happiness & How to Overcome It” —

WTF Fun Fact 12714 – Our Happiest Years

Even people over aged 90 are happier than many of us aged 40 – 59. At least that’s what a UK survey from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found when they analyzed the well-being data of more than 300,000 adults from 2012 to 2015.

Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s true for everyone – some of us think of our 40s and 50s as a wonderful time when our careers flourish. But overall, that age group reports the lower levels of life satisfaction and the highest levels of anxiety. And while anxiety is higher in women, they tend to report more life satisfaction than men.

According to The Guardian’s report on the survey, “life satisfaction plummeted among respondents aged 35 and over.” This may be due to increased family responsibilities and less time to let loose and have fun.

Researchers stated that “Evidence shows that people are having children later. Therefore, another possible reason for lower scores for the middle-age groups could result from the burden caused by having to care for both parents and children at the same time”

If you are middle-aged and miserable, however, there is a bright spot. Once you hit 60, it’s largely uphill for life satisfaction. People aged 65-79 had the highest levels of personal wellbeing (peaking at ages 70 to 74).

Now, it may be a generational thing as well. Or perhaps with age comes wisdom and the realization that one can choose happiness. We just don’t know for sure.

The important thing to note is that if you feel unduly stressed in your 40s and 50s, you’re pretty much normal – and it does get better. However, ages 50 to 54 may be the worst years. — WTF fun facts

Source: “People aged 40-59 are least happy and most anxious, report finds” — The Guardian