The Older-and-Wiser Hypothesis

Extracts from The New York Times:

Wisdom190 The formal study of wisdom as a modern academic pursuit can legitimately trace its roots back to the 1950s, to an apartment building on Newkirk Avenue, just off Coney Island Avenue in Brooklyn. That is where a keenly observant young girl named Vivian Clayton became fascinated by special qualities she attributed to two prominent elders in her life: her father, a furrier named Simon Clayton, and her maternal grandmother. There was something that distinguished them from everyone else she knew. Despite limited education, they possessed an uncanny ability to remain calm in the midst of crises, made good decisions and conveyed an almost palpable sense of emotional contentment, often in the face of considerable adversity or uncertainty.

People who learn, or somehow train themselves, to modulate their emotions are better able to manage stress and bounce back from adversity. Although they can register the negative, they have somehow learned not to get bogged down in it. Whether this learning is a form of “wisdom” accumulated over a lifetime of experience, as wisdom researchers see it, or can be acquired through training exercises like meditation.

In his 1890 book “The Principles of Psychology,” William James observed, “The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.”

More here. (For Bhaisab).