To begin this week’s Why Not post, I’d like to challenge you to switch the hand you use to direct the mouse on your computer. While it is true that until your early teens it is easiest to learn new skills in writing, math, language, music and body coordination for sports and dance, it is still possible to continually learn new skills regardless of your age, it just might take a bit more determination.
By simply changing the hand that directs the mouse, you are stimulating your brain, thereby, improving its function – similar to that of physical exercise. No matter how old you are, your brain, unlike your body, can grow – new neurons that is. Isn’t that exciting? It really is a perfect example of mind or matter. If you continually are challenging your brain, you are continually improving your state of life. While “severe mental decline is usually caused by disease, most age-related losses in memory or motor skills simply result from inactivity and a lack of mental exercise and stimulation. In other words, use it or lose it.”
So here are some ways to continue to introduce enjoyable activities into your life that also challenge your mind and enable you to live even more fully and healthy.
Believe it or not a 25-year old’s brain doesn’t differ that much from a 75-year old’s brain. A person doesn’t lose brain matter with each year they age, however, they can lessen its ability by not including regular mental exercises, so start now no matter what your age. Begin with switching the mouse on your computer to the opposite side forcing yourself to use your left/right hand (I’m doing it as I type this entire post – it took me a bit longer, but I was focused). Other instances where you can switch the hand you use by memory – it really is memory – no new growth is occurring, until you try something new – opening the door, eating, brushing your teeth, dialing the phone, or operating the remote control.
Take a New Class
By engaging in new and novel tasks, you’re engaging your brain to use different muscles, hand-eye coordination, etc. Whether you are trying yoga, a hip hop class, the rumba, chess or pottery, if it is new to you, the brain is engaged on an entirely different level than if you were doing the same routine poses you’ve done for years.
Try a New Recipe
First of all, the confidence you will feel after successfully mastering a recipe, and placing a delicious meal on the table or coffee table for a snack is reason enough to try a new recipe, but cognitively your brain is engaged, thereby, exercising your noggin. Two for one. Conjure up some joie de vivre and a bit of Julia Child gumption and get to cooking!
Visit a New Place
Often times, you may hear that as people increase in age, they become more “stuck in their ways”. This idea is actually very debilitating because by closing one’s open mind, the avenues of improving, evolving, adapting are also shut down. For example, early humans gained a substantial edge by being flexible and innovative as a way of surviving. This innovation occurred because of their strategic ability to adapt, thus perpetuating the species. Unlike the now-extinct Neanderthal that apparently didn’t venture and explore (in other words, didn’t adapt) due to their contentment to stay at home. Start planning a trip pronto! Learn, grow, see, experience.
Discover a New Author
Try to recall when your life was school, books, lockers, backpacks whether it was college or high school. How many times were you given a novel or book to read that you were not all that thrilled to plow through? For many, the reason for not having the interest to pick up a new genre or read a piece by a new author isn’t because they are unable to read it, they simply aren’t interested. Now if you’re a chick lit addict, reading science fiction may be a bit difficult, so why not try to introduce a few more non-fiction titles? Ease yourself into this one, after all, reading should be something you enjoy, but sometimes the same plot with the same outcome, only different names, isn’t engaging your brain after the twentieth time. Reach out of your comfort zone for something new. You might be surprised by what you learn.
In conclusion, you have so much to gain by trying something new, and quite a bit to lose if you don’t, so think about what you can introduce into your life. You might be surprised as to where it leads. Have a beautiful Wednesday.Click here to read part two in the Why Not . . . Challenge Yourself? series.