The optimistic, breezy title could easily be dismissed as wishful thinking. However, Rauch’s rosy projection is based less on new-age optimism than a review of a series of multi-country, big-data studies on happiness conducted over the past few decades ... The U-curve, Rauch cautions, 'is not an inevitability; it’s a tendency.' But it’s a tendency that drives the 218 pages of text, which become somewhat redundant once the curve is substantially established ... The strength of the book, then, is less the personal anecdotes than what appears to be overwhelming evidence of a happiness curve after 50 that could inspire a societal reassessment of later-life planning ... Rauch offers a fresh and reassuring vision of aging that supersedes superficial fixations.
Not everyone will experience the same midlife slump and late-life upswing, and actual levels of happiness vary from person to person and country to country: It is far better to live in Denmark than Russia, for example, where national well-being doesn’t curve back upward until after the average person is dead. Still, Mr. Rauch fills his book with reassuring research on why a midlife malaise is normal, as well as some sound lessons on how to cultivate happiness in general. With strong family relationships, a trust-filled community, and supportive friends, anyone should be able to ride out even their darkest years.
Rauch argues for recognition of a new stage in life (maybe encore adulthood? Act II?), when still-vital seniors are given support and direction to use their wisdom to mentor and aid struggling midlifers, a reassuring concept for both age groups. This thoughtful study is sure to find an audience