Forget the Myths.Middle Age Is a Good Place to Be

Work & Family Life, December 2014 | Go to article overview

Forget the Myths.Middle Age Is a Good Place to Be


Are middle-age baby boomers having an identity crisis? Just the opposite, it seems. A research project, now in its 20th year, has found that Americans in midlife-between ages 40 and 60 especially-have a greater sense of well-being about family, work and life than at any other time in their lives.

"It's not the period of high anxiety we've been led to believe," says psychologist Orville G. Brim, PhD, who led the initial phase of the Midlife Development in the U.S. study. "On balance, the sense we all have is that midlife is the best place to be."

Myth of the midlife crisis

Dr. Brim and his team have challenged stereotypes about midlife crises such as the empty-nest syndrome and menopausal distress. Other researchers are looking at stress factors unique to midlife, signals that could help predict a healthy middle age, and early signs of cognitive decline. They too are reporting mostly good news.

To begin with, the notion that most people go through a midlife crisis lives on in the public imagination, but it is not supported by research data. Fewer than one in four participants in the Midlife Development study reported a "crisis" and, of this group, the majority tied it to specific events that had nothing to do with aging or anxiety about aging.

Younger adults experience more frequent day-to-day stressors (such as fights with spouse, work deadlines) while middle-age adults report more "overload" stressors (juggling too many activities at one time). This isn't surprising since many older boomers are part of a sandwich generation that is caring for children at home as well as older relatives.

But researchers say that these stressors still don't add up to a midlife crisis.

On the plus side

Middle-age adults report having a greater sense of control over different parts of their lives. Many have come through bad marriages and career struggles. Their kids are grown. They enjoy being "empty nesters." And a raft of new books and blogs encourage them to revel in their role-Empty House, Full Mind, Refeathering the Empty Nest and Fun Without Dick and Jane, to name a few.

Many boomers say they're in better shape than they were 10 years ago, and some say they're in the best shape of their lives physically, mentally and financially.

Midlife adults score higher on measures of cognitive functioning than they did when they were 25They showed improvements in verbal and numerical ability, reasoning and memory. The only decline was in perceptual speed-for example, the ability to quickly decide if two zip codes are identical.

On the search for meaning

Researchers also shot down the myth that when people hit their 40s, they feel a sudden desire to find new meaning in life. In her book The Search for Fulfillment, Dr. Susan K. Whitbourne explains that we gradually evolve in our values, beliefs and insights as we go through life. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Forget the Myths.Middle Age Is a Good Place to Be
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.