Change of Perspective

Musings on Writing, Reading, and Life Narratives

Fiction writers and literary critics speak of point of view. Social scientists are more likely to discuss perspective. But both of these terms refer to essentially the same construct: the consciousness behind the perception and narration of experience. Each individual’s point of view is unique, and point of view shapes the stories people tell to themselves and to others about themselves and their relationships with their environment. The same event narrated from two different perspectives will produce two different stories.

A change of perspective can expand our perception and reframe our thinking about our experiences. We can all benefit from an occasional change of perspective.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Perspective on Middle Age

Middle-age is truly depressing, study finds | U.S. | Reuters

A new study analyzing data from 2 million people in 80 countries concludes that depression is most common among men and women in their 40s. Researchers found that a graph of peoples' level of happiness measured against their age fell into a U-shaped curve, with higher levels of happiness at both ends of life and a dip into depression during the middle years.

The research, which will be published in the journal Social Science and Medicine, used data on depression, anxiety levels, and general mental well-being. Researchers found that the general pattern pertains "to men and women, to single and married people, to rich and poor, and to those with and without children."

The researchers offer two possible reasons for the dip into depression in middle age followed by a rise back up to happiness:
  1. at middle age people begin to realize that they will not fulfill many of their earlier aspirations
  2. when people in middle age see their peers begin to die, they begin to value their own remaining years and embrace life once more
Finally, the study ends on a positive note: "if people make it to aged 70 and are still physically fit, they are on average as happy and mentally healthy as a 20-year old."