Have you made your resolutions for 2011 yet? If not, I have a suggestion. If so, I have one I recommend that you add. Make a resolution to continue learning.
Recent studies in brain science show that, like physical exercise, the brain benefits from frequent work-outs as well. Let’s continue with the physical exercise analogy. Most days I go to the gym. Now the college-age students on the track with me easily pass me by and with much less huffing and puffing. But I am now able to do more than when I started, and I feel better most days. It’s also fun.
The same is true of learning new things. This year I bought a keyboard from my friend Donny. Now, I have never played a musical instrument, and many would argue that I still can’t. But there is something that is absolutely thrilling about remembering a chord from my last time at the keyboard, and hearing something that resembles a song coming from my fingers. I’ll never be asked to perform a duet with Elton John, but I don’t need to be. The learning in and of itself is reward enough.
There doesn’t have to be a huge time or money commitment. One person who loved poetry in college and wants to get back to it subscribes to Garrison Keillor’s “The Writer’s Almanac” to have a poem a day delivered to her in-box. Another puts foreign language podcasts on her iPod. Another decided to read more books and subscribed to the Tennessee Humanities Chapter 16 website to get recommendations.
There are so many options. Just pick one and keep your brain as active as your body.