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Avoid Your Mid-Life Crisis


‘Midlife crisis’ is something that happens to most individuals somewhere around their 40’s, where they expect their quality of life to decline from that point forward. But Prof. Carlo Strenger of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Psychology believes that adult lives really do have second acts and mid-life years are the best time of life to flourish and grow.

What's a midlife crisis? It's the stuff of jokes and stereotypes -- the time in life when you do outrageous, impractical things like quit a job impulsively, buy a red sports car, or dump your spouse.

For years, midlife crisis conjured those images. But these days, the old midlife crisis is more likely to be called a midlife transition -- and it's not all bad.

The term crisis often doesn't fit, mental health experts say, because while it can be accompanied by serious depression, it can also mark a period of tremendous growth. The trick, of course, is to realize when the transition is developing into depression so you can get help.

"Somehow this line has been drawn around the mid and late 40s as the time for a mid-life crisis in our society," said Strenger.

"But as people live longer and fuller lives, we have to cast aside that stereotype and start thinking in terms of ‘mid-life transition’ rather than ‘mid-life crisis’.

"If you make fruitful use of what you’ve discovered about yourself in the first half of your life the second half can be the most fulfilling," he added. Studies have also disproved the notion that brain deteriorates after 40. "A rich and fruitful life after 50 is a much more realistic possibility," he added.

Strenger has given four tips to avoid a mid-life crisis. "First, and most important invest some sincere thought in the fact that you have more high-quality adult years ahead of you than behind you. Realize what that means in planning for the future," he said.

Secondly think about what you’ve learned about yourself so far. Consider what you’ve found to be your strongest abilities and about the things that most please you, not what your parents or society expected of you when you were young.

Thirdly, don’t be afraid of daunting obstacles in making new changes. "Once you realize how much time you have left in this world, you will find it is profoundly worth it to invest energy in changing in major ways. A new career choice is not an unreasonable move, for example," Strenger added.

You may now have a better chance of succeeding, because your choices will be based on knowledge and experience, rather than youthful blind ambition.

And finally, it is absolutely necessary to make use of a support network. Individuals should discuss major life changes with their colleagues, friends and families.

The people who know you best will best be able to support you in the new directions you want to take, he advises, and a professional therapist or counsellor can also be helpful.



February 1, 2010
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