Enhancing Your Brain As You Age

Written by Susan Dunn, MA, Emotional Intelligence Coach & Consultant

“The juvenile sea squirt wanders throughrepparttar sea searching for a suitable rock or hunk of coral to cling to and make its home for life. For this task, it has a rudimentary nervous system. When it finds its spot and takes root, it doesn’t need its brain any more so it eats it! It’s rather like getting tenure.” ~David Dennett, “Consciousness Explained”

And true to form, I have a client who’s a tenured college professor, head ofrepparttar 126136 department, who is “going out of his mind.” He came to me for coaching because he’s deeply dissatisfied with his life, and wants to change careers.

Without violating confidentiality, I can say this client is desperate for new experiences, for meaning and purpose, and for something new in his life. He is “hamstrung” by a high salary and a less-than-30-hour week with long vacations, but is beginning to seerepparttar 126137 “price” is not worth it.

Though this gentleman happens to actually be a tenured professor, he is representative of many clients I have who are 50 or older.

As more Baby Boomers “come of age,”repparttar 126138 studies about aging continue to pump in lots of new information to counteract former stereotypes. Science is discovering that “old” rats given new toys and new playmates start growing new brain cells, and better brain cells. Imagine!

And, poignantly, this is whatrepparttar 126139 professor lamentsrepparttar 126140 most –repparttar 126141 fact that he isn’t encouraged, or allowed, to innovate withinrepparttar 126142 department; and that there’s no camaraderie.

Let’s take a look at some myths about aging andrepparttar 126143 brain, to encourage you to keep learning, and to keep acquiring new toys, and new playmates. And, oh yes, get toys that give you a good workout, both physically and mentally. That’s one ofrepparttar 126144 keys to resilience as you age!

MYTH No. 1: Once you’re born, all you can look forward to is a long and steady loss of brain cells (aka neurons).

REALITY: “Stem” cells inrepparttar 126145 human brain can create new neurons indefinitely, and relatively idle neurons will extend their branches to carry signals to and from other neurons indefinitely, underrepparttar 126146 proper circumstances.

MYTH No. 2: We can’t get smarter as we age.

REALITY: Mice (are we like mice … you berepparttar 126147 judge) in an enriched environment, with interesting toys and playmates, showed an increase in 4000 new neurons inrepparttar 126148 hippocampus (crucial to memory and learning) compared to 2400 inrepparttar 126149 control group with no toys or playmates. And older mice’s brains also got bigger and better! And quickly! (Diamond and Rosenzweig, Elizabeth Gould, Princeton)

MYTH No. 3: Creativity diminishes with age.

REALITY: According to Ralph Warner, author of “Get a Life: You Don’t Need a million to Retire Well,” “older artists often do well, commonly experiencing a sustained burst of exciting creativity after 65.”

MYTH No. 4: There isn’t much you can do to avoid Alzheimer’s.

REALITY: According to David Snowden, Ph.D., “Aging with Grace,” hardworking brains (the ones that get used in learning new things all during life) do well because their stimulated cells branch frequently, resulting in millions of new connections (synapses) sorepparttar 126150 brain actually becomes larger and…evidence continues to accumulate that a larger brain can cope withrepparttar 126151 effects of brain diseases, like Alzheimer’s and strokes. Theoretically because a larger brain has more active tissue, and therefore a greater number of ways to work around diseased or damaged areas.

The Top 10 Rights You Don’t Have

Written by Susan Dunn, MA, Emotional Intelligence Coach

1.To have your needs met.

No matter how legitimate you feel they are, or how obligated you feelrepparttar other party is to you, it isn’t a requirement, and sometimes isn’t even possible. Learn to meet your own needs!

2.To feel good about everything allrepparttar 126134 time.

You can survive negative emotions (they don’t last long), and taking your emotional temperature allrepparttar 126135 time is counter-productive.

3.To berepparttar 126136 center ofrepparttar 126137 universe.

There are always other people, and other wills to consider. Be willing to berepparttar 126138 trailer sometimes, notrepparttar 126139 main attraction. It isn’t always about you.

4.To have your expectations met.

The lower your expectations, in fact,repparttar 126140 better you’re likely to feel, because then you can only be happily surprised. Deal with intention, not expectations. How you intend to be, and act; not how you expect things to be, or others to act. You can experience great joy planning a trip. When it doesn’t live up to your expectations, be glad you hadrepparttar 126141 planning process! As Eisenhauer (US president) said, planning is useless, but necessary.

5.To dish out what you don’t want to get back.

Self-fulfilling prophecies are all too often true. If you’re bitter and cynical and expectrepparttar 126142 worst, that’s likely what you’re going to get. If you expectrepparttar 126143 best from others, that’s also what you’re likely to get.


Yes, it’s supposedly one of your inalienable rights, but that’s not always what you’ll get in real life. Bad things do happen to good people. However, quite often if you look back on events, you will see they worked out forrepparttar 126144 best inrepparttar 126145 long run. While life is not always fair, there is a sort of rough justice out there. It takes perspective, however …

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