This book can change your life by showing how life changes

There’s nothing wrong with you if you’re experiencing malaise in middle age. In fact, there’s something right with you.

If you’re in your thirties, you may be headed for a surprise: no matter how much you achieve or how well you do, happiness may get harder than you expect. In fact, there’s a good chance that the better you do, the worse you’ll feel.

If you’re in your early fifties, you may be headed for the opposite surprise: happiness may get easier than you expect. In fact, the aging process may bring you more satisfaction than you’ve ever known.

Both of those surprises are completely normal. In fact, they appear by be wired into us by millennia of biological and cultural evolution. Even apes seem to experience something similar. It’s called the U-shaped happiness curve, and it has a strange, self-propelling logic all its own.

First noticed in the 1990s, the happiness curve is only today coming into scientific focus—and, as its implications emerge, it is revolutionizing how we understand adult development. Though its effects vary between individuals, its subtle but insistent tug makes happiness weirdly difficult in midlife, then reverses direction when we least expect it to.

We can’t repeal the happiness curve, but we can mitigate its effects by understanding and outwitting its perverse logic. Society can do even more to help, by retiring false stereotypes about “midlife crisis,” by offering support instead of mockery and isolation for those experiencing a slump, and by seeing the happiness curve for what it is: a challenging but transformative emotional reboot that turns us away from competition and toward community, opening new paths to contentment and wisdom.

A masterly synthesis of cutting-edge science and also a warmly human exploration of how real people live and cope, The Happiness Curve shows why most of what we thought we knew about aging and happiness is wrong—and why the good news about age and life satisfaction is far better than we dared hope.