Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Late 30s Male Dissastisfaction

Last week a lot of blogs pointed to a UK study that men are unhappiest in their lives from their mid 30s to their mid 40s:

35-44 invariably hit a mid-life crisis when their happiness level plunges lower than at any other age according to a study for the Government.

It makes them the least satisfied members of society, scoring well below teenagers, the elderly - and women of all ages.

Researchers found that it takes men until they reach the age of 65 to start enjoying life as much as they did in their late-teens and early-20s.

Well, I can't vouch for what comes after the hump, but I have to give the story credence for where I am at 39. Let's count the reasons:

  • Only One Milestone Left - A lot of life is about looking forward to and experiencing major milestones: your first kiss, your driver's license, your first (legal) drink, getting married, having a kid, etc. By the time you're 40, you realize you really have just one more left. The Big One. And it will be a lot less fun than the others.

  • The Onset of Aging - By the late 30s you realize you are fighting a rear-guard action when it comes to health. In your 20s it only took three days a week at the gym to keep ripped. Now it takes a daily workout just to maintain. Scrapes and bruises that took a few days to heal now take a couple of weeks. Pulls and strains last forever. The doctor starts talking seriously about blood pressure, cancer history and PSA tests. And let me tell you that the onset of real, actual aging is jarring.

  • You Are What You are Going to Be: The first two decades of life are spent dreaming and wondering what you will be when grow up. By the late 30s you realize that what you're doing, that's pretty much it, and it wasn't on your childhood list. J. M. Barrie put it more depressingly:

    The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another; and his humblest hour is when he compares the volume as it is with what he vowed to make it.

  • You See The World As It Is, Not As You Want It To Be – In a positive light this could be seen as the gaining of wisdom, but changing your world views is an unsettling experience, and in the case of middle aged men, it’s never the case that you figure out the world is a better place than you thought. It's depressing.

  • The Stress of Life – I would point out that this age range is when men are generally working the hardest. And most are going to peak in their profession during these years and realize that they reached the highest point they will ever go. This is also when most men have complicated family lives with kids reaching their teenage years, divorce being the most prevalent and so on.

So why do men feel better a decade later? I can only guess that men eventually get used to these feelings and adapt. As for women, who go through the same aging process, I have no clue.

No comments: