Life Reimagined: The Science, Art, and Opportunity of Midlife
When I was in my early 50s, I became quite convinced I was having a midlife crisis. I was an on-air correspondent for National Public Radio — with a partly paralyzed vocal cord that left me without a voice for days or weeks at a time and with chronic pain that dominated my every waking hour. I wondered if my career at NPR had reached its peak as I observed the new opportunities going, understandably, to younger journalists. My stepdaughter was in college, my marriage was stable, but our lives were weighed down with the responsibilities of college tuition and a mortgage, frail parents and high stress jobs. We were too tired to have fun. Then my father died and mother – who was my best friend – suffered a stroke. I saw with sudden clarity that my generation was the next to go.
I had a choice. I could stumble along at the edge of a midlife crisis, or I could reimagine my life. The former was unappealing, the latter fell right in my skill set. My job, as a journalist, is to ask questions and find the answers. The question here was: How do you thrive at midlife? I would tackle this problem like a story on deadline: Call the experts, find the anecdotal stories illustrating the big ideas, and explain how to chart a path to an exceptional midlife.
Happily, the research from psychology, neuroscience, biology, and case studies all points to the same answer. There are concrete steps we can take to make midlife the best time of life. Bring novelty into your marriage, tweak your career to seek meaning rather than mere success, find a new passion, build your friendships — essentially, engage those things that matter with intention and verve. I made my own life a case study, to sometimes comical effect, as my husband and I rented an RV, I began to cycle competitively, and I decided on a completely new trajectory for my career. When I began the research, I was depressed with my station in life. When I finished, I realized I have never been happier. My sincere hope is you come to the same realization. Read an excerpt →