It’s not how old you are, it’s how you are old. Jules Renard
Fluid Intelligence is raw intelligence- the ability to solve novel, abstract problems. It increases through our 30s then begins a precipitous decline in our 40s. This explains why younger people are more innovative and populate startups and new music genres. Most readers of this Wellness Pearl likely relied on this raw intelligence early in life – learning quickly and working hard to get the degree, the title, the partner.
Fear not, there is another curve lurking in the background. Crystallized Intelligence is accrued knowledge gained from past learning—i.e. wisdom. It rises throughout middle and late adulthood and does not diminish (unless there is a cognitive impairment).
What this means for your wellbeing is that Fluid Intelligence will not sustain you. We are all going to involuntarily decline in Fluid Intelligence (a precipitate of our experience) … it explains why we intuitively know what to do as we get older with situations that used to baffle us. This second wave of Crystalized Smarts may be far more valuable for the problems we are facing–it does not mean we are washed up. We can stop fighting to be in the old curve and bend to the new one, to step back and use our large mental library to solve problems wisely and help others do so. Jump into your second curve.
**This psychometrically-based theory was first described by Raymond Cattell in 1963.
Cattell, R. B. (1963). “Theory of fluid and crystallized intelligence: A critical experiment”. Journal of Educational Psychology. 54: 1–22. doi:10.1037/h0046743.
A free PDF book by angel investor Naval Ravikant is packed with solid and actionable advice for promoting our wellbeing. Agree fully with most of it.
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Would love to hear from you below about how and what you may have crystalized.