In 2008 economists David Blanchflower at Dartmouth College and Andrew Warwick published an article, “Is Well-Being U-Shaped over the Life Cycle?” They relied on surveys that asked adults of various ages, “All things considered, how satisfied are you with life as a whole these days?” Adjusting for income, marital status and employment, they found that the level of reported happiness by age had the shape of a gently curving U, starting high in young adulthood and ending higher in old age, with an average nadir at forty-six.
…If average life satisfaction is lowest at forty-six and there is a variation around the norm — a certain proportion of people being above average, a certain proportion below — we would expect emotional trauma to peak at roughly that age. That is what Blanchflower and Oswald saw. Looking at the incidence of depression and anxiety in a U.K. Labor Force survey, they found that the likelihood topped out around forty-five, with a rate roughly four times that of teenagers and three times that of older adults. The chances of falling apart are significantly higher in midlife, even if the majority get by.
— Kieran Setiya, Midlife: A Philosophical Guide
Should there be any eavesdropping Greek deities around (or any Old Testament ones with a taste for placing squalid bets), I certainly hope it won’t be taken for hubris if I report to you, live from this apparently-desolate temporal junction, that I have no serious complaints. I can’t even truthfully say I’ve dodged a bullet, because in a blithe state of Mr. Magoo-like unawareness, I didn’t even realize anyone was shooting at me. Long may it continue? (Please don’t smite me.)