Archives for: September 2009
Neurologists speak of "plasticity"; they're describing keeping mentally fit. Dr. D'Adamo treats of this in his book on aging and elsewhere: Ways for midlifers and seniors to keep their neurons firing. Everyone recommends "mixing it up", doing things differently from time to time. Some rut-bound types have to force themselves to follow that advice. I seem naturally to be of the intellectual-calisthenics persuasion.
Recently, I began plotting the genealogy of a friend whose pedigree is particularly illustrious. Talk about mental gymnastics! There's a lot of detangling to do. It's challenging and interesting. I recommend it highly. It also helps one develop computer skills, both web-surfing and all sorts of downloading, scanning, and editing.
Here are ideas for keeping those brain cells limber and lithe:
Plot a complex genealogical map.
Learn a new language and speak it frequently (go to the appropriate foreign country or neighborhood).
Learn to READ in a new (or dead) language. Read a new sentence, then paragraph, then page, each week, then each day.
Teach yourself a new alphabet: Cyrillic, sanskrit, greek, arabic, hebrew...
Dr. D. recommends crossword puzzles. If you're a whiz at these, start timing yourself. Write starting and finishing times. Then set goals, such as "weekday NY Times: 20 mins.", "Sunday Times: 45 mins." Even if you don't finish, your speed will increase naturally, and you've put a new spin on the whole activity. Also: If you've always done crosswords, switch to acrostics, or London Times, or a foreign language.
Do brain twisters. Mensa puts out books of these. You can even take a Mensa-proctored and -graded IQ test, available in many cities. It's actually fun!
Study something new, in depth. Choose a historic era, location, subject -- The reign of Amenhotep, the NASA Apollo program, diamond mining in South Africa, national healthcare programs around the world - whatever matters to or intrigues you. Go to a library or bookstore and browse for a few HOURS. See what develops. (My brother made it a point to study one course, from his kids' high school programs, right along with them, each semester.)
Take up a new hobby: Scrapbooking. Rock-collecting/gemology/jewelry-making. Photography (the real kind: with film). Drawing. Gardening. Crocheting. Needlepointing. Home decor and/or crafts projects. Carpentry. Furniture salvaging/refinishing. Ceramics. Weaving. Cookery in a new style. Wine-tasting. Start small; collect ideas first. Be on the lookout.
Take up a new sport: Go to a putting green or a driving range. Smack some tennis balls from a Ball Boy. Start swimming. Learn archery. Play ping-pong or pool. Take dance lessons, T'ai chi, yoga. Ride a bike. Pump iron. Go sailing. Row a boat. Go fishing.
Listen to all different styles of music: Classical, Gregorian chant, gospel, country, bossa nova, raga, rai, celtic, swing, motown: Dance to all of them.
Educate your ear: Take an audio course in music history/appreciation. Subscribe to an orchestral season. Take up an instrument, perhaps one that you dropped in grade school. If you're talented, start a chamber group in your town. Join a chorus: Most cities have at least one of these...or start one!
Help someone. Identify a neighbor or acquaintance who might benefit from a skill or from time of yours. Make a commitment.
Enroll your dog in an obedience, agility, herding or coursing program.
Play scrabble or Boggle or Trivial Pursuit.
Learn bridge, mah-jongg, or canasta.
Go on an adventure trip: Cruise Antarctica, Galapagos, Alaska. Ride a camel in Jordan. Go to a dude ranch. Participate in an archeological dig.
Go on a mercy trip: Build a house in New Orleans. Bring medicine to Gaza.
Diversify your investment portfolio and educate yourself about a particular market or sector. Track it. Subscribe to a relevant journal. Attend a conference on it.
Get involved with a new charitable organization. Sit on the board of one that matters particularly to you.
Befriend younger people. Get to know them. Find out what interests them, how they view the world. Invite them over for coffee.
Read the encyclopedia (I kid you not) and talk about what you discover therein (I had a fascinating cousin whose conversational topics started with the same letter for months at a time; she had a complete set of Britannica in her bathroom).
Read the Bible, cover to cover, according to a feasible plan: Plot it out.
A chapter (or so) a day? Uplifting!
Study an atlas. Teach yourself state/country capitals, names of shires, states, provinces départements/cantons of favorite countries. Play Geography with friends and family.
Participate in an online forum about something new to you.
And, of course, "Come up with stuff to blog about!"
[posted by Dr. D'Adamo for Sante J]