Thursday, October 27, 2016

How You Have the Power to Literally Change Your Mind

You can change your brain. I don't know about you but I find this to be extremely good news. 

Remember in a previous post when I shared with you about the amazing people I work with at the museum who are and are still incredibly youthful acting and interesting to be around in their 70s and 80s? One thing that they all have in common is that they are constantly talking about what they are learning and reading and where they are going.

Compare that with how you may have seen people in your family age like I have which is, they stop learning new things, sit around watching TV, and don't plan exciting things to look forward to. In short, they started acting old. 

Here's a secret to acting and staying youthful.

Learn new things. 

In fact, I would say that as adults we should go from asking each other how we're doing to "What are you learning, right now?" Isn't that a better question than "What do you do?" Wouldn't we all sound more interesting explaining what we're learning that what we get paid for?

If you checked out yesterday's post you know that I have a love affair with learning new things. I enjoy research and figuring things out. It makes my brain...happy. Turns out I'm not imagining that. Learning new things rewires the brain and increases neuroplasticity.

Until recently the common belief among researchers about the brain was that it was hardwired at birth. According to new research something quite different is going on. What is happening is that the brain is actually changed by our daily experiences. When you learn something new the nerve cells in your brain grow and the neurons develop greater connectivity.

 Any new thing that you are learning will keep those neurons firing and create new pathways in the brain. How can we fit more learning into our daily lives? My guess is that you already are, you just don't realize it. Are you trying to figure out how to use Instagram or Snapchat? Are you working on a foreign language? Are you taking up knitting? Are you learning to play a video game so you can play it with the kids? If so, you are doing your brain a big favor even though your spouse may think it looks like you're wasting your time.

So the next time you are frustrated by having to learn yet another skill in order to keep up, remind yourself that the learning process is keeping your brain young and malleable.

If we have the power to make changes to our brains in this way then imagine how it might also be affected by negative thinking or indulging in bad habits. We want to create the brain we want and we do that by how we spend our time and what we think about. 

Today's take away: 

Keep learning new stuff. 

Guard your mind against negativity. 

Embrace the frustration of learning a new skill. 


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