There are among others, two ways of aging: gruffly or gracefully. We've all witnessed the disturbed or distracted older person who is just not themselves. Something just isn't cooperating inside of them. On the other hand, there is the unmistakable beauty of someone who lives boldly without being a bother.
At some point, you begin to realize that our life is all one integrated whole- each component enhancing the others to equal something greater than the sum of its parts. And there's one crucial organ where that integration comes together in the most evident fashion: your brain.
Some ideas for cerebral health:
Exercise and nutrition enhance your brain.
Continuing to do challenging work for life enhances your brain.
Personal projects such as reading and learning enhance your brain.
While there's nothing to fear about getting older (remember, age is truly just a number), cognitive decline or dementia frightens most everyone, especially those who are advancing in years.
My father had Alzheimer's and perhaps that's made me very aware of good brain health.
In a recent interview, Dr. Sanjay Gupta offered that putting your brain health first is the essence of integrated well-being:
Everything else is derivative from that. You're much more likely to improve all other aspects of your health if you start with your brain health. If for no other reason, you'll have better judgment. You'll make better decisions about the other things in your life that affect your health, such as how you nourish your body.
In other words, we can start settling into predictable routines and old beliefs that lead to our mental decline as we age. Or, we can actively look for new experiences and challenges now that will become an integral part of who we are becoming.
Dr. Gupta argues that you've got to get outside your current comfort zone: take on new projects that challenge you in a way that's almost a bit scary; adopt a regimen of diet and exercise that is good for your heart and your head at the same time.
I've written before in these blogs about neurogenesis. It's basically the concept of birthing new brain cells. There is enough supportive science to prove that learning and reading and trying new things essentially create new pathways in your brain that keep you sharp. On the other hand, if you settle into the predictable, repetitive routines you've followed for years, your neurological roads start to narrow.
I can't place the source but I read somewhere that not only do your reasoning skills weaken, but your ability to empathize also gets "blocked" because your brain cells won't make the appropriate connections. That's why some elderly say outrageous things. They are not being bold so much as suffering from an ability to understand what is going on in that situation. We may laugh at their outspokenness when really it's a sign of incremental cognitive decline.
Whatever your conception of "your best life" is, it's rightly all in your head. The three-pound organ in your skull is the primary key to living the life you want. That's something to keep in mind when you don't feel like pushing yourself for better health, wealth, and personal growth.
Grow older and be smarter, healthier and bolder about the way you're using your brain. You've got this!