Forget about senior moments. The great news is that researchers are discovering some surprising advantages of aging

Scientists are finding the mind gets sharper at a number of vitally important abilities as you get older. (Karsten Thormaehlen)

Even as certain mental skills decline with age—what was that guy’s name again?—scientists are finding the mind gets sharper at a number of vitally important abilities. In a University of Illinois study, older air traffic controllers excelled at their cognitively taxing jobs, despite some losses in short-term memory và visual spatial processing. How so? They were expert at navigating, juggling multiple aircraft simultaneously & avoiding collisions.

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People also learn how khổng lồ deal with social conflicts more effectively. For a 2010 study, researchers at the University of Michigan presented “Dear Abby” letters khổng lồ 200 people and asked what advice they would give. Subjects in their 60s were better than younger ones at imagining different points of view, thinking of multiple resolutions & suggesting compromises.

It turns out that managing emotions is a skill in itself, one that takes many of us decades khổng lồ master. For a study published this year, German researchers had people play a gambling game meant khổng lồ induce regret. Unlike 20-somethings, those in their 60s didn’t agonize over losing, và they were less likely lớn try to lớn redeem their loss by later taking big risks.

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These social skills may bring huge benefits. In 2010, researchers at Stony Brook University analyzed a telephone survey of hundreds of thousands of Americans & found that people over 50 were happier overall, with anger declining steadily from the 20s through the 70s và căng thẳng falling off a cliff in the 50s.

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This may be news to people who equate being old with being sad and alone, but it fits with a body of work by Laura Carstensen, a psychologist at Stanford. She led a study that followed people ages 18 to 94 for a decade và found that they got happier và their emotions bounced around less. Such studies reveal that negative sầu emotions such as sadness, anger và fear become less pronounced than in our drama-filled younger years.

Cornell sociologist Karl Pillemer và co-workers interviewed about 1,200 older people for the book 30 Lessons for Living: Tried & True Advice from the Wisest Americans. “Many people said something along these lines: ‘I wish I’d learned lớn enjoy life on a daily basis và enjoy the moment when I was in my 30s instead of my 60s,’” he says. Elderly interviewees are likely lớn “describe the last five or ten years as the happiest years of their lives.”

“We have sầu a seriously negative sầu stereotype of the 70s và beyond,” says Pillemer, “& that stereotype is typically incorrect.”

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