Re-discovering greatness: what is a “midlife crisis”?

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For millions of people around the world, once they hit 50, something changes. Perhaps they aren’t where they thought they would be financially and regret their career decisions. Maybe they aren’t as in shape as they were in the past and miss that feeling of physical prowess. It could be that they are no longer happy in their marriage.

All of these stressors and sometimes more can make a person think that they are over halfway done with their lives and, in their minds, utter failures. This failing feeling, and the need to try to drastically change life course, culminates in what many people term  a “midlife crisis.”

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Not just for men

Although we mostly connect  it to men, the midlife crisis is triggered in similar ways in women as well. Triggers include hitting a significant birthday – usually between 45 and 60, watching a friend or significant other pass away, watching children graduate high school or college, and seeing friends and colleagues succeed financially or in their careers.

Psychologists say that the underlying reason connecting all of these triggers could be a sense that time is running out, and that some or all aspects of life – be it a relationship, career, lifestyle – is stagnant. There is an overwhelming feeling that something must be done before it is too late to change track.

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The way this crisis manifests itself is different between men and women. Men typically feel that they must do something drastic and potentially destructive to their lives. They feel more desire for excitement and thrills such as; having an affair, doing extreme sports, or buying fast cars or motorcycles. They may become more concerned about their appearance, trying to regain the fitness of their youth. Overall, men experiencing a midlife crisis may be trying to escape a rut they feel they’ve dug themselves into in their lives, and may do drastic things just to shake things up.

Women have many of the same feelings, but these feelings manifest themselves in different ways. They may be plagued with questions such as “what am I doing? Is this all there is in life? What have I become/done with my time here on earth?” They start noticing friends and co-workers – especially male co-workers – continuously moving up the corporate ladder while they may remain stuck. Additionally, women may begin to notice more and more men around their age become sexually interested in them. Just like men, women may seek extramarital affairs, buy expensive cars or jewelry, try to get more in shape, or even look for a new career path.

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It is during this tumultuous time that a person may take one of two options. They can use this time to drink and party more, relieve themselves of their adult responsibilities, and live for the moment without looking ahead to see how their actions in the moment will affect their future financial situation, career, or relationship. However, others take these feelings of being lost or having a stagnant life and decide to do something with it.

 

Understanding their limited time left on earth, they decide to change themselves and those around them for the better. They get more involved in their communities, take better care of their bodies, rekindle the flame with their significant others, start newer healthier relationships, and strive to improve themselves and their surroundings.

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