Editorial: What can we blame the mid-life crisis on now?

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If you're in your forties (or thereabouts) and you thought it was the divorce or the mortgage or the wayward teenage children bringing you low, Professor Andrew Oswald, of Warwick University, may have some findings to cheer you up. He maintains that it's not the economy that is to blame, nor modern life, nor even you – but biology. His research with apes seems to show that contentment follows a predictable curve in all primates, with the high points at either end of life and a deep trough occurring naturally in the middle.

So that's all right, then. If there's nothing we can do about it, why worry? The slight drawback here is that, if the lifetime pattern of our moods is predetermined, we can't blame our unhappiness on those other things – the mortgage, the children, etc. They are the effect not the cause. Will we really feel happier if we have none of these reasons to complain about?

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