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What Improves With Age

Our memories may deteriorate as we get older, but our HEARTS become wiser.

A hundred years ago, life was harder, so people tended to erect a hard crust around their emotions. Children died young, which led to the emotionally cold and distant father--very common in that era.

Men who grew up in homes with warm parents were much more likely to become first lieutenants and majors in World War II. The men who grew up in cold, barren homes were much more likely to finish the war as privates.

In the November 6th edition of the New York Times, David Brooks quotes researcher George Vaillant as saying, "It was the capacity for intimate relationships that predicted flourishing in all aspects of these men's lives." But, thankfully, Vaillant found--in what came to be called the Grant Study--that the positive effect of having one loving relative, mentor or friend could overwhelm the negative effects of the bad things that happened.

Brooks writes: "The so-called Flynn Effect describes the rise in measured IQ scores over the decades. Perhaps we could invent something called the Grant Effect, on the improvement of mass emotional intelligence over the decades. This gradual change might be one of the greatest contributors to progress and well-being that we've experienced in our lifetimes."

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