This is a topic that’s interested me for the past couple of years. Obviously, I can’t speak with authority on the topic since I haven’t studied relevant psychology, but I’m very interested in why this happens and how it can be prevented. It’s my understanding that at around 40 years of age, give or take, one may experience general dissatisfaction with life. Anxiety and depression are common. I understand it’s the dawning that life is passing you by faster than you’d planned.
You can’t look at being 40 as the glass half full either. You leave behind your youth and will most likely spend a decent chunk of the later portion of your life with some sort of physical disability, impairment, or illness. Stagnation in your professional life or discontent in your personal life may be contributing factors.
But underneath all of this, what is the real reason for the midlife crisis? Is it the realisation that you’re now losing the race with the prospect of death? Or is it this combined with the aforementioned reasons? If the average lifespan of a human being was 200 years, I doubt very much we’d experience a midlife crisis in the proximity of 40 years in.
I think the true reason this happens is because up until this age, people have never really thought long and hard about death. And if they did, they considered it as a very unlikely hypothetical situation because it seemed so far in the distant future. At this age, do we realise how real the insignificance of our lives is? Do we finally realise our impermanence? I think this could well be the case and yet we don’t know how to cope with this reality since we’ve ignored it our whole life.
Reshaping how we view life and our personal timeline may prevent this uneasiness some of us currently experience in the middle of our lives.