Several years ago I read, and reviewed a book, Wisdom Paradox, about the effect of aging on our brain. The author made the point that our brain works differently as we age. Our mind has the potential to get stronger as the brain itself actually deteriorates in a physical sense. We gain the ability to more effectively analyze information and come to new conclusions to help us. Many of the neurons in our brain do die, but are replaced by other neurons that keep pace. The key point of that post was that we can gain wisdom and insight as we age.
Let's assume the author is correct: our mind can be stronger at 65 than 25 because we have gathered life experiences, both good and bad, for decades. Our brain sorts and connects all the electrical impulses in such a way that we are left with the ability to make better choices and decisions.
So, today I'd like your input. Can you share an example of how failures or successes in your past taught you important lessons that have helped you as you have aged? Do you find your earlier life experiences have resulted in an extra dose of wisdom now? Have you learned valuable lessons from simply being alive this long?
Maybe you disagree with the book's premise...that your younger mind reacted more quickly to a problem or seemed to generate lots of solutions? Now, you seem to fall back on the safe and customary responses rather than plot a fresh course.
I think it will be interesting for us to share stories how the effects of our aging brain and mind have served us during our retirement. To get the process started I'll share an example.
|Would you take advice from this man?|
By my 34th birthday I was advising the ABC Radio networks. I had helped write a ground-breaking study for the Associated Press that help change the style of radio news. Radio stations were competing for my services. I was unstoppable. I was convinced I was smarter than most. I owned the golden goose.
Not so fast. This attitude threatened my relationship with my wife and kids. It harmed my business because I rarely accepted someone else's fresh ideas. I didn't work to live, I simply lived to work. Ultimately, within 16 years I either became much dumber or I was never that smart to begin with: my business went into the toilet along with my invincible attitude. The illusion of control turned out to be just that: an illusion.
Fast forward several years from that point and I had that proverbial slap upside the head. I finally was able to analyze the decisions I had made on how I had lived my life. I could see the flaws in my world view. Quite clearly I was able to put together all the pieces of my life. I could see that where I had ended up should not have been a surprise. It was a direct result of my lack of life experiences and inflated ego. I had achieved success too easily and at too young an age.
Luckily, for me and those around me my mind has become much better at processing information and experiences. I know what it takes to live a life worth living. I understand a bit better the consequences of actions and attitudes. I am much quicker to listen to others and throttle my control gene. I have a better grasp of the difference between needs and wants.
I am not lamenting that I screwed up badly in my earlier days. The Wisdom Paradox makes the point that the experiences we have when we are younger are necessary for us to be "smarter" as we age. But, I am quite thankful that my (soon to be ) 71 year old mind is able to use my life experiences to help me live a life much more satisfying and complete and it has given me enough discernment to chart a more productive path.
OK...enough of my dirty linen flapping in the breeze. Can you think of a situation where your aging brain is actually stronger now than it was at some point in your youth? Are you better able to make sense of a crazy world and plot a path forward that is satisfying?
Or, can you cite an example where those youthful neurons zipping around inside your head gave you an advantage you'd like to have back? Not necessarily short term memory skills, but a feeling that creativity and and energetic learning are best seen in your rear view mirror?