Tag Archives: Generation X

Motivation and the Midlife Crisis

This is for all the Gen Xers out there, irretrievably in their 40s and 50s, facing Monday with Garfield-level malaise.

Here’s an article by Jonathan Rauch in The Atlantic which I missed when it first came out in 2014, but seems to have hit me at just the right moment… and it might be just the right moment for you all as well.

In feature story fashion, it goes into the anecdote of 40-somethings seemingly successful, yet nevertheless unsatisfied into some deep data about happiness and something known as the “U curve” which has been studied for some time now.

Basically, one’s happiness often dips right about now –it’s not just a Gen X thing– and goes back up later in the 50s into the 60s.

The really interesting thing I found from the article was that this phenomenon has been observed across cultures and even in other species of great apes (apparently, we all don’t feel so great at the same point in our lifecycle).

The motivation part of it comes deeper in the article where it’s speculated that the subsequent upswing in happiness (thus making the U curve) comes from a re-calibration of what one values of life — which is comforting, though I understand if that feels more like comfort in the Vulcan logic kind of way.