Even though there is some consensus across people, places, and time about what counts for well-being, it is increasingly evident that well-being can also take a variety of forms (King and Napa 1998; Markus, Ryff, Curhan, and Palmersheim, chap. 10, this volume; Ryff and Singer 1998). The authors propose here that both the consensus and the diversity in well-being can be systematically linked to the ideas and practices that are common in particular sociocultural contexts. In this chapter, the authors first use the MIDUS (Midlife in the United States national survey) data to determine some of the core features of well-being in the United States, and then they examine some points of regional variation. The authors suggest that American well-being at midlife is importantly constituted both by widely distributed American ideas and practices and by regionally specific ones.
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