Life is good. And as I was saying to an old friend yesterday Covid has certainly helped me to get a better balance in my life. A change of job, no time wasted on public transport, and an enhanced ability to manage my own time and energy are among the dividends of this pandemic.

So, encouraging to read in the New Scientist this week that terminal decline isn’t something to worry too much about either:

While 20-somethings may win a sprint, performance in many other sports can reach a high later in life. That’s not to mention factors like emotional well-being and mental discipline, which rise and fall in unexpected patterns. And despite nostalgia for the joys of youth, for most of us, our happiest days are actually yet to come.

And I must say that’s certainly how it feels to me. The New Scientist suggests there are seven stages:

  1. CHILDHOOD The era for original thinking and imagination.
  2. ADOLESCENCE The peak of curiosity and risk taking, which reaps rewards in later life.
  3. TWENTIES The fast years, but are they really the happiest?
  4. THIRTIES When superpowers of endurance make up for any loss of speed.
  5. FORTIES A peak time for emotional intelligence and ability to focus.
  6. FIFTIES AND SIXTIES Reaping the rewards of your crystallised intelligence.
  7. SEVENTY-PLUS A peak time for wise reasoning and making the best decisions.

I’m not sure I entirely recognise all these. I was fabulously unfit in my early thirties, and the brain scrambling effect of young children means I can’t remember much of our early 40s. Also I’m not entirely thrilled about being lumped in with sixty-somethings… (Sorry sixty-somethings!)

Still adding crystallised to emotional intelligence is certainly one of the gifts of your 50s. So long as you can keep fit and guard against cynicism, it helps to have seen a good many things happen before.

As the article says:

Contrary to popular opinion, humans seem to have evolved to flourish into middle age and beyond.

A good friend of mine told me this a decade ago. He wasn’t wrong.

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