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Using your Brain Effectively (Part 6)

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(…continued from last week)

You spent the first portion of your life, the first 20 years or so, building a brain that has what’s called “cognitive reserve”. That equates to a dense network of neuro-connections in brain cells that’s from experience, from doing, from learning, from trying new things, from going out and experiencing life.

The difficulty is that if you stop doing that (as many people do when they hit their 20’s) and just go into a routine where they do the exact same thing over and over, the number of neuro-connections will diminish. You have the most brain cells and interconnections you’re going to have by about age 11 or 12. Though dead brain cells are replaced and new ones keep being formed, you have a diminishing number of neuro-connections after age 11. The way to lose less connections is to keep learning and experimenting. Learning new things is vitally important because you are using new mental skills you wouldn’t otherwise.

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When you’re actually learning something, trying something new, seeing a new way to do something you’ve done routinely–you’re creating new neuro-pathways. This is hugely important. As you get older you want to keep what you already have in the best shape it can be.

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One of the ways you do that is by adding in new ideas, new concepts, new methods, new twists. Dr. Fabiny called it “straining your brain”. This doesn’t mean you do it to the point where you have a headache. What it does mean is there are a wide variety of mental activities that seem to help preserve cognitive function and your “cognitive reserve”.

Playing board games, juggling, doing things like Sudoku or crossword puzzles, playing scrabble, putting together puzzles; the more challenging tasks that cause a peripheral view within your mind. These are mental activities that go on a continuum all the way from watching TV to learning a brand new subject or learning a new foreign language. They go from the super simple to highly complex.

Having a whole range of mental activities from easy to hard is the best. Taking on challenging things has good strong benefits for you. Don’t just go to the library and learn new things but be open to new experiences as well. Do something different, keep learning, keep growing but try new things. Even in the things you do routinely, do things differently and alter your habitual pattern or path.

Comfort Zone Limitation

To some degree being uncomfortable is part of that process. Being challenged sometimes means stepping out of comfort zones. One stereotype of aging is that young people are bold explorers and old people are timid home-bodies. That may be true to a degree but whatever age you are you have to explore a bit and break out of that comfort zone.

We all have a place we are the most comfortable in–our comfort zone. What you need to ongoingly do is bump your boundaries, learn new things, go new places, try different kinds of food, explore new activities, expand your mind and your physiology both, by exercise that is mental and physical.

Over time, some people may become less confident in their ability to do new things, so learning becomes scarier; it’s more intimidating. Learning sometimes seems harder and does take longer than it used to, and so it’s very easy to just stick with what you know. But breaking ourselves out of our pattern is crucial to perpetual growth and expanding who you are.

Getting out of your comfort zone from time to time challenges your mental skill sets and includes things like travelling to a different city. That is a great experience when you go somewhere you aren’t used to and do things in unfamiliar surroundings. It’s allowing yourself to be open to the world and not making your world smaller than it needs to be.

(to be continued…)

Has this program caught your interest? Just can’t wait to hear the next segment? Or perhaps you’d like to download the entire program to your phone or tablet and listen during your travels? You can purchase and immediately receive this entire program as a digital download. You will receive all of the audio segments, plus a 33 page PDF transcript! Order Now: Using your Brain Effectively

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