A User’s GuideTo Midlife

Midlife, typically defined as ages 40 to 60, is an inflection point. It’s a time when our past behaviors begin to catch up with us and we start to notice our bodies and minds aging — sometimes in frustrating or disconcerting ways. But it’s also an opportunity: What our older years will look and feel like isn’t set in stone, and there’s still time to make adjustments to improve health and well-being going forward.

“Things that you do or things that happen in midlife can have long-term effects on the later life,” said Margie Lachman, a psychology professor at Brandeis University who specializes in middle age. “So it’s a really important period for paying attention to your body.”

And what about that U-shaped curve? Susan Charles, a professor of psychological science at the University of California, Irvine, thinks that life satisfaction reaches a nadir in middle age because it’s a time when people start to reflect on their lives.

“In our youth, we think, you know, everyone can grow up and be president, and you have these hopes and dreams,” Dr. Charles said. “And then midlife is a time where you kind of reconcile what you have to what you were hoping and dreaming of.”

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