Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Middle Age Syndrome

Middle age is a difficult period of life for many (if not most) humans. Youth has slipped away and most of life's mysteries have been answered; how and when we will die is about the only one left. Passion, diversity and freedom have given way to boredom, routine and nagging responsibilities. We dwell on the past, dredging up lost opportunities and second guessing our decisions. In many cases, this wave of loss and regret leads to impulsive and destructive behavior: marital problems, affairs, alcohol abuse, poor job performance and self-absorption.

Since we cannot restore our youth or undo the past, the remedy for this middle age syndrome is to take on new challenges and involve ourselves in diverse activities that inject enthusiasm, socialization and a sense of purpose into our lives. Athletic activities, volunteer programs, educational courses (foreign languages, art, music, writing or other areas of interest), travel, teaching and a variety of new hobbies can reinvigorate our mid-life doldrums. While some may profess no time for such diversions, most soon realize that enthusiasm creates its own opportunity and that wasted time was part of their problem from the start.

As far as we know, we only have one life to live. We might as well make the most of that brief span, middle age included.