When you think about someone having a midlife crisis, you probably think of a man getting divorced, stepping out with a younger woman, and buying a sports car. But my guest today says the often jokey, mockable trope of the midlife crisis we have in our popular culture discounts the fact that the sense of dissatisfaction people can feel in their middle years is quite real, and that the questions it raises are profond, philosophical, and worth earnestly grappling with.

His name is Kieran Setiya, and he’s a professor of philosophy and the author of Midlife: A Philosophical Guide. Kieran and I first discuss what researchers have uncovered about whether the midlife crisis really exists, how it might be better described as a kind of midlife malaise, and how Kieran’s own sense of life dissatisfaction began when he was only in his mid-thirties. We then explore the philosophical reframing that can help in dealing with the existential issues that the journey into midlife often raises, including feeling like you’ve missed out on certain possibilities and feeling regret over your mistakes and misfortunes. We also talk about how to shift out of one primary cause of the midlife malaise — the sense that your life is merely about putting out fires and checking off boxes.

Resources Related to the Podcast

Seasons of a Man’s Life by Daniel LevinsonAoM series on Levinson’s researchTransformations: Growth and Change in Adult Life by Roger GouldPassages: Predictable Crises of Adult Life by Gail SheehyOrville Gilbert Brim’s MacArthur study on “Midlife in the United States”David Branchflower’s study on the U-shaped curve of happinessJohn Stuart MillSunday Firesides: Youth Is Not an IdentityAoM Podcast #770: Philosophical Tools for Living the Good LifeAoM Podcast #620: How to Deal With Life’s RegretsAoM Article: The George Bailey Technique — Mentally Erase Your Blessings for Greater Joy and OptimismAoM Podcast #527: Father Wounds, Male Spirituality, and the Journey to the Second Half of Life With Richard RohrAoM Podcast #598: Journeying From the First to the Second Half of Life With James Hollis

Connect With Kieran Setiya

Kieran’s WebsiteKieran on TwitterKieran’s Podcast

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The post Podcast #776: How to Shift Out of the Midlife Malaise appeared first on The Art of Manliness.

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