Want a more youthful brain? Here's how!
"May you build a ladder to the stars and climb on every rung. And may you stay forever young." (Bob Dylan)
Staying young - whatever your age
We all know what can happen. As we age, we tend to get older and stiffer in our joints and muscles, and as a result, we can become less mobile and more inflexible. At the same time, our brains can go the same way. Our thought patterns and habits can become rigid, our views can harden, and we can become less and less interested in trying anything new.
But it doesn't have to be that way, physically or mentally. Everyone knows that regular exercise, a good diet and plenty of sleep is the recipe for looking after our bodies. But fewer people are aware of the main ways to keep our brains youthful and in good shape - ready to enjoy the adventures that each new day can bring.
If asked to think about it, many people might guess that a good way to do this might be to do mental exercises like crosswords, logic puzzles or Sudoku. These are not bad ideas and should certainly not be discouraged; but unfortunately, on their own, they will do little to prevent rigid thinking and inflexible habits setting in - In fact, they might even be part of the problem. But here are four ways that really will help you stay forever young:
1. Exercise, a good diet and plenty of sleep
Yes I know this has already been mentioned as the way to keep your body young and flexible. But your brain is part of your body too. It needs the benefits of fresh air, good nutrition and plenty of rest just as much as any other part of your body - if not more!
2. Embrace change
Change is as inevitable as the passing of time. And trying to stop change is as futile as King Canute commanding the tide to stop coming in. Most of us know this and accept that change is always happening - whether that is with us as individuals or with society, new inventions or organisational structures. But accepting the inevitability of change and embracing it as a good thing are two different matters.
It is a characteristic of younger people to look forward to new things and to welcome new innovations. But we don't have to stop doing this! So every time you find yourself saying something like "All modern music is rubbish" or "All kids today are badly behaved", stop and think - Is that really true? And then you might want to reflect on what you could be missing out on because of your nostalgic beliefs about "the good old days".
3. Keep learning/keep challenging your thoughts
This is probably the most important way of staying young. Frequently trying new things and going to places you have never been before provides a great means by which this can be achieved - but it's learning that makes the difference. Learning literally requires you to make new neural connections, keeping your brain active and functioning at its best. It's not about studying for exams, although they can sometimes be good motivators. It's about learning something every day that you did not know when you woke up - whether that is developing a skill, acquiring new facts and information, or finding out more about the world. Essentially, it's about being open to new ideas and opinions - and being prepared to change and adapt your own on a regular basis. So ask yourself: "When was the last time I changed my mind about anything or anyone?" If it was so long ago that you can't remember, it's likely that you have developed a quite elderly brain (whatever your age).
4. Be optimistic!
There's a great saying "All successful people have two core beliefs: The world can be a better place, and I have the power to make it so". Both of those beliefs require a spirit of optimism about yourself and the world around you. But this is not just pie-in-the-sky wishful thinking. All of us truly do have the power to make the world a better place in our own small way. It's only when we no longer believe it that our brains become truly old.
How coaching can help...
Coaching is a process that helps you to really get to know yourself, to challenge yourself, and to set exciting new goals for the future. And one of its greatest benefits is that if you engage with it fully, it will almost certainly knock years off your ageing brain and help you feel much more alive and youthful again!
About the author
Paul Hemphill is a leadership and well-being coach who specialises in bringing a positive psychology approach to his coaching. Over the last five years he has helped literally hundreds of clients to restart their lives, develop new levels of confidence, change careers, improve their work/life balance, or become better leaders and managers.
Life Coach Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.
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