Good news: Your ability to resist that cookie or drink or bad-idea hookup improves dramatically with age. And so does your emotional health and stability. Because it really is more emotionally difficult to be 20 or 30 than a senior citizen.
Researchers from Duke and Vanderbilt universities traced the daily emotional states of people ages 20-80 by pinging them on their cell phones three times a day for 10 days. The participants were asked their current cravings (food, sex, sleep, work, cigarettes, alcohol, social media, conversation), and to rate their current levels of eight emotions, including sluggishness, contentment, enthusiasm, and relaxation. They were also evaluated for overall life satisfaction.
The study finds that older people are, hands down, less emotionally volatile, more emotionally stable, and—crucially—better able to resist temptation. This means that your younger-years trials over booze or social media may well relax as the years pass. In fact, whether or not someone can resist a temptation like food or a cigarette correlates more strongly with age than with how the person feels.
This is a big deal! It means that all those years of turmoil do, actually, result in emotional regulation skills. The researchers hypothesize that some of the improvement is because older adults are more oriented toward well-being, and wanting to feel their best each day.