Were Your Best Memories Made By Age 25? Study Says, Probably

Want to hear something truly depressing?  Most of us have made our best memories by age 25.

According to a new study, "By the time most people are 25, they have made the most important memories of their lives, according to new research from the University of New Hampshire."

Newswise.com reports that researchers have found that when older adults were asked to tell their life stories, "They overwhelmingly highlighted the central influence of life transitions in their memories. Many of these transitions, such as marriage and having children, occurred early in life."

(Of course, not in my case, when I had my son at 47!).

“When people look back over their lives and recount their most important memories, most divide their life stories into chapters defined by important moments that are universal for many: a physical move, attending college, a first job, marriage, military experience, and having children,” said Kristina Steiner, a doctoral student in psychology at UNH and the study’s lead researcher.

In the UNH study, researchers found a pronounced “reminiscence bump” between ages 17 and 24, when many people defined chapters of their life story beginning and ending. A reminiscence bump is a period of time between the ages of 15 and 30 when many memories, positive and negative, expected and unexpected, are recalled.
“Many studies have consistently found that when adults are asked to think about their lives and report memories, remembered events occurring between the ages of 15 to 30 are over-represented. I wanted to know why this might be. Why don’t adults report more memories from the ages of 30 to 70? What is it about the ages of 15 to 30 that make them so much more memorable?” the Web site quotes Steiner. 
“Our life narratives are our identity. By looking at life narratives, researchers can predict levels of well-being and psychological adjustment in adults. Clinical therapists can use life narrative therapy to help people work through issues and problems in their lives by helping them see patterns and themes,” said Steiner, who studies autobiographical memory.
Maybe because I had my child so late in life (and also married right before I turned 40), my best memories are from my 30s and 40s.  Of course, they're the only ones I can remember, too!  But seriously though, I wasn't formed enough in my 20s to have the experiences most people that age have.  I didn't marry young, or younger, like most of my friends, so my memories from those years were work, and more work.  I enjoyed my career and spent most of my time at it.
So maybe I'm the exception who proves the rule.  But I believe a lot of good memories are still ahead.


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