Let Go of Regrets

Friday, June 22nd, 2012 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

A recent study published in the journal Science suggests that persons who don’t dwell on missed opportunities may have more satisfying later years. The German study involved healthy young people in their twenties, depressed older adults in their sixties, and healthy older adults in their sixties.

Using functional MRI brain scans, the researchers gauged their subjects’ responses to missing opportunities while playing a computerized game-based test. Winning or losing at the game was largely a matter of chance. When the young adults and depressed older adults realized they had missed opportunities earlier in the game, they typically began taking greater risks as the game continued. The healthy older adults, however, reacted more calmly without greatly changing their game-playing strategies. The brain scans revealed that the healthy older adults were feeling less regret and were better able to control their emotions. They seemed better able to keep in mind that luck played an important role in the game’s outcome, whereas the depressed subjects seemed more likely to blame themselves.

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