Is Happiness Possible in Midlife Crisis?

Jul 30 13:24 2009 Dr.Frank Bonkowski Print This Article

In a new e-Book, the author asks whether an individual can be in a "midlife crisis" and be happy at the same time.  He looks at the notion of happiness from different angles. He asserts that an individual can develop the capacity to create peace and happiness irrespective of external conditions.

Defining Happiness

I like most people view happiness in a very personal way.  In fact,Guest Posting I experience happiness in many possible ways, such as being in harmony with myself, my family, my associates, friends and wider community. I recently saw this definition of happiness on the Internet:  "having the freedom, health and opportunity to do great things for myself and others."  That too is a powerful message. Even though we may be in the grip of what is commonly called a “midlife crisis," can we be happy?

In a new free e-Book 25 Reflections on a Happier Midlife and Beyond, Dr. Fred Horowitz and I share our reflections on this and many other questions. Here are some of our reflections.

The Spectrum of Happiness

In Happy for no reason, Marcie Shimoff reports on interviews with a hundred people she considered to be happy.  Shimoff proposes the notion of a happiness continuum.  On one end of the continuum, you can be unhappy experiencing such emotions as fatigue or melancholy or thinking that you are in the throes of a "midlife crisis."  On the other end of the continuum, you can be happy for no reason.  She describes this as a state of peace and well-being that does not depend on external circumstances. 

In between these two levels are being happy for a “bad reason,” such as feeling good in the moment because of drugs, alcohol, over eating or any other addiction.  There is also being happy for a “good reason,” such as getting a raise, having money in the bank, or being in love.

Dr. Fred Horowitz has been an executive coach and specialist in “midlife crisis” coping strategies for over 15 years. He claims that “while we may be experiencing a crisis, at our core, we still can be connected to a sense of well-being and peace.”

Happiness is Multi-Dimensional

Robert Holden, a British researcher, has studied happiness for over 10 years, and describes the meaning of happiness in his book, Be happy.  He posits that there are three kinds of happiness: sensory happiness or pleasure, circumstantial happiness or satisfaction, and unreasonable happiness or joy.

The first kind of happiness, pleasure, comes from our physical senses.  He claims that there are both positive and negative aspects to this kind of happiness.  On the positive side, sensory happiness is natural and life affirming; it gives you a sense of aliveness and connection with others.  However, sensory happiness relies on an external stimulus and can be very transitory.

Holden refers to the second type of happiness as circumstantial happiness or simply satisfaction.  We might think of this as being fulfilled or having a sense of subjective well-being.  For example, we can have life satisfaction or job satisfaction.  We can also get a lot of satisfaction from learning and growing.  However, this too has its upside and downside.  This kind of happiness also depends on external sources.  It also tends to fade over time; we tend to quickly adapt to this kind of happiness and expect even more in the future.  This can really play havoc with our peace of mind.

Awareness of Joy

Holden refers to a third type of happiness that he calls unreasonable happiness or being joyful.  This is very similar to Shimoff's notion of being happy for no reason.  He states that "unless you cultivate awareness of joy, no amount of pleasure or satisfaction can make you happy."

Dr. Fred Horowitz and I strongly believe that you do not need to accept the conventional wisdom about “midlife crisis.” We make the case in our new free e-Book that irrespective of external conditions you can develop the capacity to Get the new free e-Book 25 Reflections on a Happier Midlife and Beyond.

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About Article Author

Dr.Frank Bonkowski
Dr.Frank Bonkowski

Dr. Frank Bonkowski is an infopreneur, educator, and author of bestselling educational textbooks. He co-founded, with Dr. Fred Horowitz, 
Happiness-After-Midlife, an educational website dealing with midlife coping strategies and happiness.

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