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The Happiness Curve

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  • #16






     
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    I have no idea who this is, but I love this guy. He hooked me from the start with (to paraphrase), "Do I have any qualifications to offer this advice? No. Is that going to stop me from giving it? No." :-)

    Also, I agree with about 90% of this.

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    • #17

      Scott Galloway, NYU b school professor who also hosts a great podcast with Kara Swisher about tech and finance called Pivot. He’s tremendous. As is his new book the video is based on.

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      • #18
        Anne, thanks for the reminder to read this book.  I checked it out and renewed in twice, returned it, and have subsequently checked it out again two weeks ago...grand total of 11 weeks sitting on my desk so far, perhaps now I'll finally prioritize it.

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        • #19
          40s = Working harder than ever. Newness of profession has worn off. Medicine has more administrative demands than ever before. Marriage is at seven year itch plus. Kids aren’t so cute anymore and getting to the dreaded teenage stage. Lost touch with college friends who are also working hard. Realizing you need to work harder to save for college. Realizing you need to work harder to save for retirement. Your own parents are starting to get sick and die.

           

          Why would life satisfaction take a hit?

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          • #20
            I think its a lot of things. In the prime working years where things can be a slog, you likely have multiple kids that are young and getting busier, theres just a lot of things that need to get done and you're getting pulled in a bunch of directions without much input at times. This can be slowly isolating for spouses as they individually try to optimize things, making things feel worse.

            Its definitely good to know, and does make sense just from a life standpoint of whats going on.

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            • #21


              40s = Working harder than ever. Newness of profession has worn off. Medicine has more administrative demands than ever before. Marriage is at seven year itch plus. Kids aren’t so cute anymore and getting to the dreaded teenage stage. Lost touch with college friends who are also working hard. Realizing you need to work harder to save for college. Realizing you need to work harder to save for retirement. Your own parents are starting to get sick and die.
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              Great stuff for us in our early 30s to look forward too!

               

              But really every stage of live has its challenges.

              I remember being a kid in HS thinking hour tough it was.  Boy was I wrong.

              I remember being in college thinking how easy that was.  Yes I was right there.

              Some parts of medical school and residency were truly miserable but the constant action, personal growth, learning, and camaraderie helped.

              Now in my early career and I feel this is the hardest part yet.  Mostly because of my demanding family obligations.  Work is not bad.  I hit my stride and I know how to play the game by this point.  I am sure that I am wrong about thinking this stage is hard.  I am sure I would rather be waking up multiple times at night dealing with pee pee and poo poo problems then the issues to come with teenagers.

              My observations of empty nesters makes me realize that we need to continuously work on ourselves and our relationship with our spouse to be happy in that stage.  I have seen multiple examples of people who get so involved with their kids lives that when they are gone they do not have a purpose and they realize they have lost the only thing they had in common with their spouse.

              Replace kids with Career and this can happen as well.

              I try to appreciate the good parts of each stage as much as I can.  It was hard to do so at 12, 2, 3, and 430 last night but I know that this is not going to be forever.  I am not the type of person to believe that thinking positive always brings positive outcomes but I do know that dreading the future will only lead you to misery.

              Sorry for the long post.

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              • #22
                I think late 30's/early 40's are a natural time for many to feel sort of bummed about life.  I think a big part of it is the realization that life is short and you're not as great as you thought you were.  You're officially no longer a young person by that age and you start to see your peers having health problems, careers aren't as great as you imagined they might be, your partner may not seem "perfect" anymore, etc, etc.  It's a disillusionment stage I think.  People in their 20's are usually ignorantly blissful and have yet to realize their own shortcomings.  They've also not had to deal with sickness or death.  Eventually this youthful optimism has to dissipate.  Then, you go through a stage of learning to find other things in life to love and be happy about.  It's just a transitional time.  It makes sense that it coincides with physician burn out.

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                • #23
                  This is a good topic.

                   

                  40 here, agree with a lot of what Ghetto says.  I love my job, but struggle with "make hay while the sun shines" vs backing off a bit.  This is influenced by college costs for my kids, retirement, etc.  It is hard work taking care of children and I have seen people that have hurt their marriage by focusing too much on the children and not taking breaks for the marriage.  One thing that we are also having issues with is that we don't have family that makes a big effort to spend time with their grandchildren (i.e. watch my kids without us).  Getting them to help us and committing to it is like pulling teeth.  This is the one thing that I can honestly say would increase our "happiness".

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                  • #24




                      One thing that we are also having issues with is that we don’t have family that makes a big effort to spend time with their grandchildren (i.e. watch my kids without us).  Getting them to help us and committing to it is like pulling teeth.  This is the one thing that I can honestly say would increase our “happiness”.
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                    We are in the same boat here, trying to get one set of grandparents to move to our town who are now retired.  They say they want to spend time with the grandkids, but it is a lot of work and I understand that they already raised their kids.  So I don't push too hard because selfishly I want them to move to make my life easier, not necessarily so they can have "quality time".

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                    • #25
                      Great topic.  Really enjoyed the video.  Especially the part about caring for a person facing death.  Some of the happiest times our family has experienced was when we moved my elderly mother with dementia into our home.  Was it tough at times? Yes.  Rewarding?  You bet.

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                      • #26
                        I think the curve is shifted for doctors.  My engineering friend had been at his company nearly 10yrs by the time I started my "real" career.  Relevant topic too as I was just talking with non-md friends about this.  Folks ranging from mid-late 30's, most seemingly unhappy and disenchanted with work and such.  These are folks with good jobs, careers, family life, had a good upbringing, school, etc.  Who knows when or how it'll turn around but it certainly makes sense how we can be happier in our younger years, always striving for something, meeting milestones (graduation, jobs, marriage, kids, etc.) but then things level off until I guess kids go to college, you become empty-nesters, retirement is on the horizon, etc.

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                        • #27
                          Different folks have different skills and tastes. Some parents sacrifice and/or derive huge satisfaction from “gifting” different ways.

                          Handling newborns and changing and feeding the diaper stage is well within my wheelhouse. For MY kids, Dad was the designated labor. First, second etc. Not one hesitation, “Here, she needs to be changed”.

                          Funny how that works. If I have a kid that needs to be changed, I hand them to either the mom or dad. Babysitting for an afternoon, overnight, a weekend, a week or two does require responsibilities, some which require minor sacrifices. For our grandkids, only if asked.

                          Nothing wrong with finding a common ground. My wife would keep the grandkids for a whole year and love it.
                          It’s a “gift” that would bring her great pleasure. If you are struggling, someone is communicating, someone just doesn’t like the answer.

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                          • #28







                              One thing that we are also having issues with is that we don’t have family that makes a big effort to spend time with their grandchildren (i.e. watch my kids without us).  Getting them to help us and committing to it is like pulling teeth.  This is the one thing that I can honestly say would increase our “happiness”.
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                            We are in the same boat here, trying to get one set of grandparents to move to our town who are now retired.  They say they want to spend time with the grandkids, but it is a lot of work and I understand that they already raised their kids.  So I don’t push too hard because selfishly I want them to move to make my life easier, not necessarily so they can have “quality time”.
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                            grandparents are sooo overrated and vastly underwhelming, you're lucky if one of them steps up.  best ROI was nanny
                            It's psychosomatic. You need a lobotomy, I'll get a saw.

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                            • #29




                              $75,000??

                              What?!
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                              It's hard to take this number in isolation. For example, if you were making $75k working 80 hours a week I'd venture to guess you'd be less happy than someone making the same working 10 hours a week. Or if you were a bachelor vs. married vs. married with children.

                              When my SO and I were making a combined $100k a year pre-tax (so about 75k post-tax) i felt like we were able to do all the things we wanted to do in life without significant restriction, and we are not frugal by any means. That being said, we weren't saving at all so I'm not sure how that calculation fits into this number.

                              As an attending making 4x that, we moved to a higher cost area and have almost doubled our spending. I wouldn't say I'm necessarily twice as happy or even 5-10% happier. I just don't stress about money anymore. As a resident I was able to pay for all my "needs" and my "wants." I was able to acknowledge the value of things a bit more because I had to make decisions about what I wanted to spend my money on. As an attending I find myself spending more money on things I don't need and things I get little use out of. So sure, I'm less stressed, I'd definitely rather earn $400k than $100k, but I wouldn't say I'm that much happier.

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                              • #30
                                Am I missing something here? (Maybe because I had an unhappy childhood) I just don't understand the assumption that we deserve to be happy. Like it's a right given to us at birth. I consider myself very fortunate, as I'm sure many on here do / should too, but that next step of thinking I deserve it, or that it's owed to me, is a place I'm not willing to go. Suffer your way to wisdom, right? Is it that many in their 40's are finally beginning to address their own mortality? The youtube shared was good but it still boils down to everything we've heard before. The safest path, clearly targeting a specific audience: obtain higher degrees, create stability through family, eat well, exercise, and avoid addiction. I daresay plenty who do just that still experience their fair share of ennui.

                                Adam Phillips' "Missing Out: in Praise of the Unlived Life" was a transformative read. It validated the perspective I had already developed as a young adult. The impulse to run from dissatisfaction or unhappiness is strong indeed, and often these problems can be resolved, or lead to a higher level of meaning and satisfaction by working through. But there are no guarantees. Sometimes there is no point to dissatisfaction except that it is real and we should sit with it.

                                The flip side of that is cultivating radical gratitude. Hardship, or even addressing our own mortality can be informative and lead us to more fulfilling modes of life. But I daresay every person at one point or another will experience hardship so profound that it is an end in and of itself. There is no mending. The point of it is simply that it has happened and in order to be authentic beings we must address and live with it. Can we be grateful for that simply on the basis that it is lived experience?

                                I don't know, without reading the book it kind of seems like, good? If a person hasn't addressed the big questions by their 40's they probably should.

                                 

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