When we are young, our skills tend to improve with age and experience. But once we are well into adulthood, it may start to feel as if it’s all downhill. With every advancing year, we become slightly more forgetful, somewhat slower to respond, a little less energetic.
Yet there is at least one important exception: In the emotional realm, older people rule supreme.
For the past 20 years, Susan Turk Charles, a psychologist at the University of California at Irvine, has been monitoring the shifting moods, the sense of satisfaction, the moments of contemplation and the occasional outbursts of anger, sadness and despair of people of all ages — with a special interest in how we handle and experience emotions as we grow older. She and her colleagues have found that, on average, older people have fewer but more satisfying social contacts and report higher emotional well-being.
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