How to Overcome or Avoid a Quarter-Life Crisis

by RJ

in Psychology

Quarter MoonThe human body does a tremendous job of regulating itself. When you haven’t gotten enough sleep, your eyes get heavy. When you’re dehydrated, your mouth becomes dry. When you have a virus, your body creates white blood cells.

Whenever something is “out of control” your body is working to fix it. This is also true for less abstract things like your happiness.

Through life experiences, you’ve naturally developed a happiness level you’re comfortable with. Whenever you’re inside of this comfort level, you’re mind isn’t thinking of ways increase your happiness. Just like your body doesn’t waste energy creating more white blood cells if you don’t have an infection.

But what happens when you do have an infection? You’re body uses the majority of its energy to generate white blood cells. It works so hard, your body temperature actually rises and thus you get a fever. When your happiness levels go below a certain point, your mind can only focus on generating new ways to make you happy.

If you’ve been in this situation, commonly referred to as a “quarter-life crisis” for members of Gen Y, you know exactly what I mean. Anything but what you’re doing right now sounds appealing…applying for the Peace Corps, changing careers, quitting work and backpacking across Europe.

Although it doesn’t feel like it at the time, it’s a good thing your brain is generating these ideas. It’s letting you know that your current level of happiness is unacceptable.

From time to time, I get these crazy ideas on my own. The other day my brain was throwing around the idea of becoming a professional golfer. On multiple occasions, I’ve felt like selling Gen Y Wealth.

Whenever this happens, I know I need to change something.

How to overcome a Quarter-Life Crises

The goal isn’t to fight off your quarter-life crisis, as in wishing it goes away with time. Your brain is signaling to you that something’s not right, it’s best to listen and act.

Does it make sense then to act on your “crazy ideas” (joining Peace Corps, quitting your job, etc…) in hope of improvement? Not necessarily. Here’s a smarter approach:

Step # 1 – Don’t Fight It

Everything isn’t OK. If all your brain can focus on is changing your current situation, listen to it. Just recognize that the crazy ideas that it’s generating may not be the solution.

Step # 2 – Try Something New

Your current level of happiness is complication of your past experiences. Therefore, if you’re suffering from a lack of happiness, you need to create new experiences.

Sometimes this could mean taking a drastic step and quitting your job. However, don’t count out the small experiences such as finding a new hobby, learning something new, etc… (Buying things isn’t an experience).

Avoiding the Quarter-Life Crisis Symptoms

While doing the research for this post, I couldn’t help but realize how important it is to actively plan your life, even if you’re not in the middle of a crisis.

Your mind is perfectly fine with sticking to the status quo. If something’s not wrong, it’s not working to fix it.

The more you seek new experiences, the more data your mind has to establish a higher level of happiness.


Photo by: Rick_Artigas


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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

John HunterNo Gravatar August 31, 2011 at 7:19 pm

I think the most important thing is to take the right actions to avoid the mid-life crisis or the 3/4 life crisis or the deathbed crisis. Make sure you focus on what you really want to get out of life and take actions to make that happen. The 1/4 life crisis can be a good thing to get you to remember whatever is due next week or you plan on doing this weekend probably isn’t as important as it seems. Often some sacrifices are required in the short term for long term happiness but don’t end up sacrificing your true desires for whatever is easiest in the short term.


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