Even if you’re in your 20s or 40s there’s never too early or too late to start working your brain. No matter what we do, we are getting older and so does our mind. But there is something we can do to postpone as much as we can the inevitable. Like with our body and skin, if we take care of our brain cherish and nourish it we’ll be a lot better, a whole lot better.
Until recently it was thought that the brain was just a muscle and you can’t do anything to improve it; that you were born with a fix number of neurons and that was it; and, if a brain cell died it could never be replaced. But the brain is a fascinating and complex machinery and just in the last decade or so new information has been discovered and contradicts all that. It started in the 60s with Joseph Altman, who showed growth of neurons in adult rats then in the 80s and 90s and in 1998 it was shown that in the human hippocampus neurons are produced throughout life. For some neuroscientists, neurogenesis in the adult brain is still an unproven theory. But others think the evidence offers intriguing possibilities about the role of adult-generated neurons in learning and memory.
For me, it all started with this book: Rewire Your Brain: Think Your Way to a Better Life by John B. Arden. After riding it I really started taking care of my brain. Besides exercising regularly, eating well, socializing, not drinking or smoking, in my opinion the best habit that you can have for a healthy and improved brain is never lose your curiosity and your student condition. In a simple translation: learn! Always look for new things to do and learn about. Read as much as you can about everything that you are passionate.
When I was younger I could hardly wait to be all grown up and stop learning. But, boy was I wrong! It was a good thing that I liked reading and so, from just literature I expanded my area to personal development, spirituality, psychology and philosophy and a new world was opened up to me. I think the firs book I read which opened my eyes was: The power of now by Eckhart Tolle.
I also started to learn a new language: Spanish. I’m learning it on my computer with Rosetta Stone courses. I really enjoy this course format because it only speaks in that language; it’s structured on three levels: beginners, intermediate and advanced; the words or actions are reinforced with pictures which is very easy to remember; it also makes you write the words or phrases you learned and most important, this is the feature I’m most exited by, you speak, and if you don’t pronounce well you can’t get pass that point. If you have other recommendations about other courses that you liked, please tell me.
I try to keep my mind active and learn new things all the time. Now I’m into online courses. In fact this is what I really wanted to write about, but I thought a little introduction never heart anyone. There are a lot of online platforms nowadays, but my favorite by far is coursera.org. I like how it is organized, its clean format and the diversity of courses that can be found there and the structure of the courses. You can even get a certificate of accomplishment if you finish the course and pass the exams. If you like to learn java you can, or about the world wars or how to write in English or food; you have no excuses. The only thing is to want! It’s free and just at the push of one button away. At this moment I’m taking two courses in two distinct areas: Exploring Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas and Buddhism and Modern Psychology. The Buddhism course is from Princeton University and held by Robin Wright the author of The Moral Animal: Evolutionary Psychology and Everyday Life and most recently, of The Evolution of God, which was a New York Times bestseller and a lot more. I love this course! I like the professor and the topics he discusses about. I’m somehow into Buddhism and I like to discover more about the subject. This course helps me find out so much more information because everything is condensed in a few hours of video lectures. You also have suggested readings and other resources. In my opinion, is a great tool for learning and finding out new things.