People of a certain age group 🙂 get frustrated when we sometimes can’t remember a word or name or place when we know we know… So frustrating! It can feel like we are sitting in the Blackstone Chair and can’t remember the answer to the question we know we know! Indeed, research shows that cognitive function slows as people age. But, guess what?
Speed isn’t everything.
A recent study pointed out that older people have much more information in their brains than younger ones. Retrieving it takes longer. But while younger people are faster in tests of cognitive performance, older people show “greater sensitivity to fine grained differences” (Topics in Cognitive Science).
What exactly does that mean?
Greater sensitivity to fine grained differences = wisdom
Sociology professor Monika Ardelt (University of Florida, Gainesville) has developed a scale consisting of 39 questions aimed at measuring three dimensions of wisdom. This is what she learned:
Wise people are more likely to have better coping skills.
Wise people are able to accept reality as it is, with equanimity.
Wise people are less self-centered.
But there is one condition: Wisdom requires a continued desire to learn.
The Berlin Wisdom Project, started in the 1980s, sought to define wisdom by studying ancient and modern texts. Professor Ursula M. Staudinger concluded that true personal wisdom involves five elements:
The ability to demonstrate personal growth
Self-awareness in terms of your historical era and your family history;
Understanding that priorities and values, including your own, are not absolute;
An awareness of life’s ambiguities.
My conclusion: It’s all about learning. Let’s keep learning, no matter how young or old we are, and stop fretting about remembering every single word. Besides, I’ve found that sometimes those forgettable moments can lead to marvelous laughter and hugs.