Aging

These Are the Ages You're Best at Everything, According to Science

As we grow older, it can be easy to fall into the trap of feeling like your best days are behind you. Don't be fooled! For certain skills, that is — obviously — the case. But as each birthday rolls around, there's reason to be excited, too, because you're getting one year closer to your peak happiness, or math skills, or body satisfaction. Rejoice!

Bonjour, J'ai Sept Ans

People hit different "peaks" throughout their lives. Your first one starts around second grade, when foreign language skills are most likely to take off. It's a lot easier for kids to pick up new languages than it is for adults, so an individual's ability to learn a new language peaks at age seven, or at least before puberty.

According to a 2010 study, your ability to learn — and remember — new names, however, peaks later, at age 22. Unfortunately, your ability to remember faces doesn't coincide with that skill. It'll be another decade before you're at your peak for that: People remember faces best around age 32.

Ladies and Gentlemen

For the most part, these peak ages are the same regardless of gender. But the age at which you'll earn your highest salary has a fairly large gender discrepancy — women will reach their peak salary at age 39, while men do so at age 48. Yet both genders reach peak arithmetic skills at age 50.

The following year, at 51, is when people are best at understanding the emotions of others. Peak vocabulary occurs at age 69, peak happiness with your body at 74, and last on the timeline is peak psychological wellbeing, which is reportedly reached at age 82. (Teenagers, eat your heart out.) There's one quality that peaks twice in your life, however, and that's overall life satisfaction. A study found that that peaks at age 23 and again at age 69. Well, that's something to look forward to!

Harvard University has been studying people's happiness for more than 50 years. You can read the lessons they've gleaned in the book "Aging Well: Surprising Guideposts to a Happier Life from the Landmark Harvard Study of Adult Development" by study director George E. Valiant. We handpick reading recommendations we think you may like. If you choose to make a purchase through that link, Curiosity will get a share of the sale.

The Age You're Best at Everything

Written by Joanie Faletto September 6, 2016

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