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Last Updated on November 26, 2020

Midlife Crisis in Men: The Definitive Survival Guide

Midlife Crisis in Men: The Definitive Survival Guide

Many people experience a midlife crisis, so a midlife crisis in men is not uncommon. If you think you’re in the middle of one, it’s important to know that it’s never too late to start creating the kind of life that you want. Once you learn how to recognize the signs of a midlife crisis, you’ll be on the road to healing in no time.

So many of us slog through each day, only to look around and realize that we’ve been letting life pass us by.

If this is you, use this as a guide, and with any luck, you’ll begin to see the midlife crisis in men for what it really is: an opportunity.

Note that this is a midlife crisis guide for men, if you’re looking for a guide for women, check out this article instead.

What Exactly Is a Midlife Crisis?

A midlife crisis is generally defined as a transition of identity and self-confidence that occurs in a middle-aged person (typically 45 to 64 years old). This psychological “crisis” is fueled by events that bring to light a person’s age, inevitable mortality, and perhaps a lack of notable accomplishments in adult life. Hence, midlife crises in men are very similar to midlife crises in women.

Not surprisingly, people can then experience depression, anxiety, and the desire to make significant life changes.

Incidentally, the term “midlife crisis” was coined by Canadian psychoanalyst and social scientist, Elliott Jaques, in 1957. (Funny enough, Jaques also coined the term “corporate culture.”)[1]

But recent studies have shown that most middle-aged people don’t actually experience a midlife crisis. In fact, some have questioned if the midlife crisis even exists.

However, for many of us, the midlife crisis is all too real.

Signs of a Midlife Crisis in Men

The midlife crisis for men can materialize in a number of ways. Some of the most common are found below:

  • Mood swings: Those experiencing a midlife crisis can seem highly temperamental, becoming angry or irritable with family members without justification.
  • Depression and anxiety: A midlife crisis can undoubtedly cause one to feel sad, restless, or just plain miserable.
  • Sleeplessness or oversleeping: Depression, anxiety, and a constantly spinning mind can greatly affect one’s sleeping habits.
  • An obsession with appearances: Those going through a midlife crisis often feel the need to remain attractive to others.
  • Increased consumption of drugs or alcohol: Middle-aged adults may turn to drugs or alcohol to mask their feelings.
  • Feeling stuck in a rut: Those going through a midlife crisis often feel like they’re stuck—in a bad job, a bad marriage, a bad situation—with no way out.
  • Thoughts of death or dying: A midlife crisis can cause people to think obsessively about their own mortality.

Other signs of a midlife crisis include: impulsive decision-making, having an affair, replacing old friends with younger friends, assigning blame to others, and extreme boredom[2].

Take a look at this chart to see how many of these signs are you experiencing[3]:

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chart about midlife crisis in men and women

    Why a Midlife Crisis Happens

    It bears repeating that recent studies seem to reject the idea that most adults go through a midlife crisis. Researchers believe that personality type and a history of psychological issues predispose some people to the traditional midlife crisis[4].

    Of course, common day-to-day stressors can pile up, causing middle-aged adults to believe they are having a crisis. Midlife crises in men may sometimes be just midlife stressors[5].

    Additionally, many middle-aged adults experience life events that can lead to prolonged depression or psychological distress. Psychologists often attribute the phenomenon to aging itself, the aging or death of one’s parents, the maturation of one’s children, spousal relationships (or lack thereof) and career (or lack thereof).

    How to Deal With a Midlife Crisis

    If you believe you’re having a midlife crisis, if you feel stuck, or if you’re experiencing trouble with your mental health

    , I’d like to assure you once again that you’re not alone. A midlife crisis in men and women is normal.

    Try following some of the steps below to help you learn how to deal with a midlife crisis and get yourself back on track toward a life you enjoy living:

    1. Decide

    Someone once said that “the first step toward getting somewhere is to decide that you’re not going to stay where you are.” And, I couldn’t agree more. This is truly where the work begins.

    I began to experience a shift only after I made the decision—no, the unbreakable promise to myself—that I was going to change my life. And no matter how much you’re suffering, you can make yourself the same promise.

    2. Stop the Search for Happiness

    As humans, we spend our lives trying desperately to find happiness, and yet we don’t even know what it is.

    We can’t explain, describe, or define it; we just know that we want it because it’ll make everything peachy. Time and time again, though, studies have shown that our never-ending quest for happiness is quite often the very thing that screws us up.

    Trying to find happiness is a futile effort, likely to exacerbate the “crisis” you’re having. Stop the search for happiness and start taking action steps toward creating the life you want. When you do, you won’t need to find happiness. Eventually, happiness will find you.

    3. Meditate

    What I used to dismiss as new age nonsense has positively changed my life in more ways than I thought possible. Meditation has been proven to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, improve focus and concentration, increase self-awareness, and promote better physical health. It is a great way to help ease the midlife crisis in men.

    And, for me, it’s the only activity that effectively tames my “monkey mind,” or what neuroscientists have recently named the default mode network (DMN)[6].

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    Your DMN is most active when you aren’t focused on anything in particular, and your mind is wandering from thought to thought. At best, these thoughts can be inspired and entertaining. But when you’re in the throes of a personal crisis, these thoughts can be destructive.

    Meditation has a quieting effect and significantly decreases activity in the DMN. And when the mind does start to wander, those who regularly meditate are much better at snapping out of it.

    Try this 5-minute Guide to Meditation: Anywhere, Anytime, and experience its benefits.

    4. Develop an Abundance Mindset

    For years, I operated from a scarcity mindset. I was angry that all the world’s goodies seemed to go to everyone else. I wondered why those around me were getting recognized, getting rich, getting a nice partner, and I wasn’t.

    Maybe, I thought, there’s just not enough to go around. Of course, this kind of thinking isn’t just debilitating; it’s downright inaccurate.

    The world, in fact, is a place of abundance with limitless opportunities. Remind yourself of this every day, regardless of your age. Open yourself up to all that the world has to offer.

    5. Practice Gratitude

    Before you go to bed at night, think of five things for which you are grateful. Better yet, write them down. These can be common, everyday occurrences, like seeing a beautiful sunset, learning something new, or hearing your favorite song on the radio.

    As Dr. Robert Emmons, a professor at UC Davis and the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude, wrote,

    “Gratitude is, first and foremost, a way of seeing that alters our gaze.”

    Need a little inspiration on how to practice gratitude? Here are 40 Simple Ways To Practice Gratitude.

    6. Pursue Your Passions

    Another helpful thing to help ease the midlife crisis in men is to pursue passions.

    Certainly, if you’re having a midlife crisis, it might seem hard to feel passionate about anything, but you can reinvigorate your spirit with a remarkably simple activity.

    Think about what you love doing or what you loved doing when you were a kid. Think about how you might spend your time if you had the financial abundance to do anything. Think about those you admire, those whose careers you wish you had.

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    Whatever your passions are, pursue them wholeheartedly. If you’re not sure what your passion is, check out this guide.

    7. Exercise

    Exercise is, by far, the most widely recommended way to stave off negative feelings and gain perspective. But you don’t need to go to the gym to get exercise.

    You can do yoga, play badminton, or jump on a trampoline. You can go swimming or dancing or hiking or biking. You can hula hoop with your kids or practice Kung Fu.

    You can clean your garage, pull weeds in your garden, or take a brisk walk around the neighborhood. Just do something physical, and you only need to do it for 30 minutes three or four times a week.

    8. Set Goals

    Make a list of everything you’d like to accomplish in the next year, in the next five years, and the next ten years. Talk to a coach or someone you love about your goals, and work out a plan to achieve them.

    Learn to use SMART goals to achieve what you want: How to Use SMART Goal to Become Highly Successful in Life.

    9. Stay off Social Media

    I can’t think of anything worse for a fragile human psyche than social media. It’s no secret that using social media can lead to depression, anxiety, envy, feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness, and all kinds of other problems.

    One study found, specifically, that “participants who used Facebook most often had poorer trait self-esteem, and this was mediated by greater exposure to upward social comparisons on social media”[7].

    It’s also a colossal waste of time. Imagine what you could accomplish in your own life during the hours you spend scrolling through the highlight reels from the lives of others. If you want to survive a midlife crisis in men, get off social media.

    10. Laugh as Much as Humanly Possible

    Whoever coined the phrase “laughter is the best medicine” was really onto something. Studies show that laughter releases endorphins, activates neurotransmitter serotonin, relieves physical tension and stress, boosts the immune system, and protects the heart[8].

    If you’re having a midlife crisis, you might be wondering if you’ll ever experience laughter again. That’s why you need to seek it out.

    Before I go to bed, I watch ten minutes of stand-up comedy. I read funny books, see funny movies and spend as much time as I can with ridiculously funny people.

    Make a conscious effort to integrate laughter into your daily routine. You’ll be tickled you did.

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    11. Think of Your Life as a Party

    The fact that you’re alive isn’t just a cause for celebration, it’s a miracle—so improbable that if you try to comprehend it, your mind will almost certainly turn to mush.

    Dr. Ali Binazir, a wicked smart Harvard grad and the author of The Tao of Dating: The Smart Woman’s Guide to Being Absolutely Irresistible, actually crunched the numbers, demonstrating that the probability of your dad meeting your mom was one in 20,000, the probability of your dad dating your mom was one in 2,000, and the probability of the right sperm meeting the right egg was one in 400 quadrillion.

    And that’s just the beginning.

    Your grandparents, great grandparents, and everyone before them—going back millions of years to the first Homo sapiens—had to meet and have children. In the end, explains Binazir, the probability of you being born was one in 10, followed by 2,685,000 zeroes.

    Tragically, so many of us never truly appreciate what it means to be alive. We succumb to our fears, give up on our dreams, and tolerate the intolerable. We get into bad jobs, bad relationships, and bad situations, allowing others to treat us poorly.

    Think of your life as a party and remember: life is meant to be enjoyed, not endured.

    Besides, it’s never too late to live the life you desire!

    Final Thoughts

    No matter what age you are, every day provides a new opportunity to do something new:

    • Sam Walton founded Wal-Mart when he was 44.
    • Ray Kroc bought the first McDonald’s just after his 50th birthday.
    • Rodney Dangerfield was 46 when he got his big break on the Ed Sullivan Show.
    • Harland Sanders was dead broke at 65. Then, he sold the first Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise.
    • And Charles Darwin published On the Age of Species at age 50.

    We can’t stop the inevitable. We’re all going to die. The question is: what are you going to do while you’re alive?

    Life is precious. A midlife crisis in men isn’t the end.

    Take a minute to examine what’s really going on, and you may find it’s not really a crisis at all. In fact, there’s a good chance it’s the perfect time to create the life you’ve always wanted. No excuses.

    More to Help You Get Unstuck

    Featured photo credit: Zach Vessels via unsplash.com

    Reference

    More by this author

    Tony Endelman

    Certified life coach, certified relationship coach, heartbreak recovery expert and internet entrepreneur

    Midlife Crisis in Men: The Definitive Survival Guide

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    Last Updated on April 14, 2021

    How to Find Your Core Values to Live a Fulfilling Life

    How to Find Your Core Values to Live a Fulfilling Life

    Everyone has things that are important to them. It can be getting in that morning coffee, going for a run after work, spending time with friends and family, or volunteering. The things that are important to you can give you a clue as to what your core values are in life.

    This is important, as, according to The Atlantic, 7 out of 10 Americans say people’s values have been getting worse in America over the past decade.[1]

    Let’s first define core values and then dive into discovering what yours are.

    What Are Core Values?

    Your core values are a testament to your true self because they are what matters most to you when it comes to your personal and professional life. Your values influence that little voice in your head that tells you whether or not to care about something and how you should prioritize your time.

    Your values are the things that you believe are important in the way you live and work.[2] They help determine what you truly want out of life while simultaneously acting as the measuring stick you use to tell if you’re satisfied with your current situation and living in a meaningful way. Core values define who we are while helping us find our purpose.

    Here are a few good examples of values:[3]

    • Reliability
    • Loyal
    • Committed
    • Teamwork
    • Caring
    • Adventurous
    • Listening
    • Diversity
    • Humility

    Some of these values are instilled in you from childhood. They can be cultural or learned through watching your family and hearing their discussions about things they’re passionate about.

    Perhaps now, in adulthood, you realize you’re passionate about those same things. It’s not a bad thing to share core values with those around you, but it can be detrimental to live a life that doesn’t honor those core values once you’ve identified them.

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    How Core Values Affect Our Daily Decisions

    We make decisions based on our values every day, but we sometimes forget about the important decisions we face, big and small, and the potential stress those choices can create.

    When you can identify your values and make choices that align with them, life suddenly becomes a little easier. But when you’re running on autopilot and not allowing your values to coincide with your choices, you can find yourself becoming incredibly unhappy, and maybe you don’t know why.

    Discovering your core values don’t help with huge aspects alone; they impact seemingly small things, too. Think back to that new phone you bought that you didn’t really need. You decided that spending money wisely was not valuable to you, but is that truly how you feel?

    Now it’s the end of the month and bills are due. Perhaps it would be really helpful to have that money back, so it has created stress. That disconnect stems from living a life that doesn’t correlate with your core values.

    When you begin to make those choices that seem small at the time knowing what you find valuable, you begin to feel less stress in other aspects of your life. This has a snowball effect that leads to better choices and prolonged stress-free existence. And the best part is, there’s no hard work needed, just some introspection and self-awareness.

    And if simply sitting alone for a few minutes could impact the rest of your life positively, wouldn’t it be worth it? After all, knowing your values helps you make important decisions, like accepting a job, starting a business, or making a big change.

    How Do We Find Our Personal Values?

    Core values are important to us. By figuring out the things that matter to us most, we can lead a better life.

    To get started finding your core values, you can check out Lifehack’s Free Life Assessment, which can help point you to what you believe to be important in life.

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    Then, you can try the following two ways to find your personal core values.

    Start With Your Morals

    Knowing your core values can certainly sync up with your morals, which you likely already have a good handle on. After all, your values have a direct impact on your standards of behavior.

    Think about it: if it is morally important to you to arrive at your workplace and focus on nothing but work on company time, it will also be true that being an honest and efficient employee is a value you carry to every job you occupy.

    If you’re the kind of partner who puts their phone away when on a date, this probably means you are a morally loyal person and want to ensure your partner knows you value time with them.

    This is a strong indication that, as a core value, you put relationships first and work hard to show people you care. You could easily list respect and commitment on your list of core values.

    Analyze Your Own Experiences

    For instance, think back to a time you were the happiest.

    Can you name the thing that caused you to feel happiness? Was the fulfillment you felt due to other people, and if so, who were they?

    Think about when you were proud of yourself, and why you felt that pride. Your own experiences can shine a great light on what you hold important.

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    Don’t be afraid to look ahead and analyze where you want to challenge the status quo. What values do you want to exemplify to your children?

    If you want others to value it, it’s valuable to you.

    What Should I Do With My Core Values?

    Just sit down and make a list of what comes to mind, and let yourself explore those core value words. There is no set limit on how many values you can have, so allow yourself to list as many as you can.

    1. Prioritize Your Values

    If you wind up with 20 words, consider crossing out those that barely made the list and prioritize your values.

    Personal development blogger Steve Pavlina suggests identifying the top value, then the second-highest value, and so on until you’ve rebuilt the list in order of priority from the top to the bottom.[4]

    As you’re trying to prioritize the values, have this question at the back of your mind:

    If I have to choose from these, which one goes first, and which one can I live without?

    Some of the words may easily float to the top, whereas others might stump you. Allow that to happen, and accept that it aids in teaching you who you are.

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    2. Look to Your Values Every Day

    Once you’ve determined what your core values are, it’s vital to look to them every day. We all face challenging situations and decisions, and it’s important to know your core values in those instances, as they will help guide you when the best choice isn’t the most obvious one.

    Let your core values be valuable to you. Everyone is on their own path, and no one can tell you what your core values are but you.

    3. Don’t Be Afraid to Rework Your List in the Future

    When you realize your values and begin to live by them, you may find that not all of them are as important as you believed.

    Rework your list when the time comes. You’re allowed to consciously change your values as you grow and evolve as a person. In fact, it will be entirely necessary throughout your life.

    Final Thoughts

    You are not your values. You are the thinker of your thoughts, but you are not the thoughts themselves. Your personal values are your current compass, but they aren’t the real you.

    Remember, your important values should aid in creating your best life, and your most authentic self.

    You make the rules, so be patient with yourself and dedicate the time to discovering your core values. You’ll be amazed at the things you can accomplish.

    More on Discovering Your Personal Values

    Featured photo credit: Bewakoof.com Official via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] The Atlantic: 21 Charts That Explain American Values Today
    [2] MindTools: What Are Your Values?
    [3] ContentSparks: Big List of Core Value Words
    [4] Steve Pavlina: Living Your Values Part 1

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