MORE CONFIDENCE: Researchers, like Carol Ryff, the director of the Institute on Aging at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, have found that "while stress reaches a high point in middle age, so does confidence in one's own abilities. By midlife, most people said they felt better equpped to screen out petty annoyances and disappointments and juggle career and family," writes New York Times Patricia Cohen in Get a Midlife.
BETTER SEX: ...at least for women who have told researches that they have greater control over their own sex lives in middle age. "The anxiety-producing pressure from men had eased. They had fewer worries of comtracting sexually transmitted disease and about getting pregnant," Cohen reports.
In Nancy Meyer's 2003 movie "Something's Gotta Give" (see photo at left), the aging Jack Nicholson asks his 50-plus lover Diane Keaton, "What about birth control?" Her answer, Cohen reminds us, is: "Menopause."
INCREASED FINANCIAL SAVVY: The ability to make effective financial decisions may eventually decline as we age, but it is at its peak at mid-life. "Middle-age adults may be at a decision-making sweet spot," concluded economists at the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College in their study of age and financial performance.
And of special interest to CREATIVE late-bloomers:
GREATER ARTISTIC INSIGHT: "Despite the media's obsession with young talent, psychologists like Carl Jung and Erik Erikson maintained that middle age propelled individuals toward their greatest achievements," says Cohen. "Countless writers, filmmakers, musicians, poets and painters have expounded on the artistic insight of midlife."
TIME TO CHANGE DIRECTION: "Middle-aged baby boomers and Gen Xers have something else their forebears did not: more time," concludes Cohen. "With longer life spans, those in midlife have decades to recoup losses and change direction."
In other words, it's never too late to become what you might have been.