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Where Are You on the 'Happiness Curve'? Q&A with Jonathan Rauch: Podcast

A fascinating and challenging new book argues that "life gets better after 50."

In a country that fetishizes youth, writing a book subtitled Why Life Gets Better After 50 is practically an act of revolution.

But that's exactly what the Jonathan Rauch has done. The Happiness Curve: Why Life Gets Better After 50 is a mind-blowing synthesis of social science and deeply moving personal accounts that will change the way you think about every stage of your life. Whether you're in your early twenties, the thick of middle age, or your golden years, The Happiness Curve will help to explain not just what's going on in your life now, but what to expect down the road. If knowledge is power, this book is pure dynamite. In a wide-ranging conversation with Nick Gillespie, Rauch explains why being aware of the aging process can help individuals be more productive and more fulfilled at every stage of life.

Rauch is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and an award-winning journalist who has written for every publication of note, including Reason (archive and coverage here). His books include Kindly Inquisitors: The New Attacks on Free Thought; Gay Marriage: Why It is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America; and Political Realism: How Hacks, Machines, Big Money and Back-Room Deals Can Strengthen American Democracy. Go here for his website.

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Audio production by Ian Keyser.

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  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    will change the way you think about every stage of your life

    Apparently we've reached the days where everything everyone says will change the way you think about your life.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    This comment changed the way I think about my life.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    I never thought about it that way before. Thank you.

  • Rich||

    Actually, it changes *everything*.

  • Zeb||

    Well, everything interesting that anyone says to you changes your life a little bit, I think.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    What if you have Benjamin Button disease?

  • Shirley Knott||

    Utter bullshit.
    Generalizing from cherry-picked individual cases is worse than useless.
    Dubious pop sci of no value, targeted at those not yet 'old'.

    [and you damn kids get off my lawn!]

  • The Last American Hero||

    Especially since the cases he sighted in another podcast were primarily related to him, his friends, and his colleagues.

  • Zeb||

    Well, there is the social science part too. About which there is plenty to criticize in general. But some social science research is pretty good. And even if it's not a hard science, I think it's better than just throwing up our hands and saying that it's just pointless to ever try to rigorously study anything about human social interaction because it's not science in the same way physics is.

  • DajjaI||

    Would you rather be right, or happy? Sorry, can't be both.

  • Shirley Knott||

    I'm happy you're wrong.

  • EscherEnigma||

    In a country that fetishizes youth, writing a book subtitled Why Life Gets Better After 50 is practically an act of revolution.


    Are you kidding? Since the Baby Boomers started hitting those ages, books glamorizing them and saying how awesome it is to be old have been churning out at a pretty constant rate.

  • Zeb||

    It's also gotten a lot better to be old (and a lot more likely that you will live to be old and in reasonable health) in the past half century or so.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    His books include Kindly Inquisitors: The New Attacks on Free Thought; Gay Marriage: Why It is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America; and Political Realism: How Hacks, Machines, Big Money and Back-Room Deals Can Strengthen American Democracy.

    Are non-fiction politically slanted books required to have pretentious titles or something?

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Yes. Duh.

  • lap83||

    I keep thinking that it's one long book title between the words "kindly" and "democracy"

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    To be fair, you slanted the titles with i-tags in lieu of proper block quotes and forgot to unslant the connectors. Try this:

    His books include Kindly Inquisitors: The New Attacks on Free Thought; Gay Marriage: Why It is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America; and Political Realism: How Hacks, Machines, Big Money and Back-Room Deals Can Strengthen American Democracy.
  • Zeb||

    No, the real rule is that they must contain colons.

  • Mark22||

    Just remember to have your colons checked regularly once you're past age 50.

  • Tony||

    Whether you're in your early twenties, the thick of middle age, or your golden years.

    There is something between the first two, right? What are you in your 30s, besides invisible? I did start cooking out of the blue after never cooking before, and was told it was a midlife crisis. Which is possibly true considering the 30s is gay death (the line is that you get reborn in your 40s--apparently nobody in their 30s is sexually desirable to anyone).

  • gormadoc||

    They're just trying to save your feelings.

  • Mark22||

    What are you in your 30s, besides invisible

    My 30's were fine. Maybe there is some reason other than age yours weren't.

  • Tony||

    Oh I love my 30s. I stopped caring about shit so much.

  • lap83||

    The happiness curve was my nickname at senior bingo night

  • Rich||

    But where were you on the 'Ha, penis Curve'?

  • lap83||

    I think that curve begins and ends in middle school

  • Jerryskids||

    "Ha'penis Curve".

  • Zeb||

    My penis is quite straight, thank you.

  • sharmota4zeb||


    Tony|5.9.18 @ 9:32PM|#

    Oh I love my 30s. I stopped caring about shit so much.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    Tony|5.9.18 @ 9:32PM|#

    Oh I love my 30s. I stopped caring about shit so much.

  • lap83||

    Or senior bowling league, that is even better

  • Jerryskids||

    Is it going out on a limb to guess that the author of a book sub-titled Why Life Gets Better After 50 just recently turned 50 and in about ten years will be writing a sequel entitled Why Life Gets Even More Better After 60?

  • lap83||

    No, he'll title it "Why Life Gets Better After 50"

    Life is better because everything you have to say is still so fresh and original even after all these years

  • CE||

    I'll say the 40s are the best. You have (hopefully) a respectable career, a decent amount of money, and good health with all body parts and processes working as intended. After that things go downhill, even though you have more cash. Before that you're still trying to make it.

  • Priscilla King||

    Well, I for one am enjoying my 50s. Menopause as such is an undisputed plus factor. On the minus side I do find myself more conscious of time, as in finiteness of, and money, as in lack of, and disability, as in fear of, more often than in my 40s.

    Aging is not all, altogether, bad.

    I hope that thought offers some comfort to somebody Out There.

  • Rockabilly||

    I have bi-polar disorder and today I feel down.

    My recipe for the feeling is toking some homegrown and listening to music.

    So today I have a bunch of Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf tunes on the hi-fi and I'm toking on some home grown.

  • Tom Bombadil||

    I'm over 50 and I'm so happy, I'm not going to buy this book.

    Also, I'm so happy that I'm not going to buy this book.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    We tax working people in their late 20's through early 60's to pay for schools, which have become playgrounds, and retirement. Of course the data shows that Americans are most happy in their youth and retirement years.

  • Drave Robber||

    Sometimes life gets better after 50, sometimes after 100 ml of booze.

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