First I shall sketch out the story of my own mental awareness over a 91-year period, then offer some explanations about how the same may apply to others.
My first memories are at age 3 years and 3 months, perfectly normal. The next 20 years of school and college were at the grade B average, but with lots of boyhood hobbies and activities. I mainly liked working with my hands and playing games of all sorts. My curiosity kept me motivated outside of the classroom, but I found most classes to be quite boring and confining. I then spent 14 months in the US Army with 9 months overseas in Manila, PI. I then went to college and graduated with a BS degree in Chemistry. Got a steady job as a research chemist, got married, played tennis on weekends, and had four healthy children by age 34.
Life was good; I had everything, but life was getting dull and routine. I had no ideas about what happens next. Is this all there is at age 34? Not at all, but I had to break the mold and venture out into the unknown over the next 30 years. I was merely following my curious and adventurist nature towards my personal growth. I had many deficiencies to work through, especially with communication and social interaction skills. After some 40 years of watching PBS TV programs of intellectual discourse, some of it slowly rubbed off on me. Now at age 91 I find myself confidently expressing myself on almost any subject.
Thus, my life has grown better and more fulfilling each and every year. My mind is sharper, nimble, and more creative by far than ever before. My daily life is filled with meaningful and challenging activities, yet balanced and stress-free. I expect that to continue for many years yet. Now, I will attempt to explain the “Hows and the Whys” of how our human brain grows and develops continually through the decades.
It may help to think of our brains as a computer with hardware and software. Every human is born with an excellent computer-like mind, yet we all develop as individuals; no two alike. No matter our talents, most of us grow up with some flaws and bad habits. The strong-minded person can correct any habit by will of thought. I call it “Reprogramming the Bio-computer”. Try it and never give up before success is gained. The brain is like a muscle; Use it or lose it.
Our brains grow faster with struggle and challenges. We are survivors and solvers of problems. Our brains grow stronger and more flexible under pressure of life situations, or creative ambitions.
Life can get better with age because of how the brain learns how better to function for your needs and interests. The older brain allows you to clearly see and understand things that you were blind to before. Youngsters are blind to many things before pointed out to them. And even then they may not see. That is because of the brain’s built-in bias. It is very hard to unlearn what was learned in the formative years. Too often, people “Do not know what they do not know”. Ask lots of questions if you want to grow and learn. That is what I have done.
At age 40, I suddenly realized that I had rethought and unlearned virtually everything I thought was to be true at age 20. I was born a “Truth Seeker” and all I was taught were “Opinions”, except of course, the technical lingo of chemistry and industry. I was now asking more questions and becoming more skeptical as I grew in consciousness. My mind was opening to searching for answers to an ocean of curiosities. First, let go of the old, and allow a place for the new.
Mysteriously, at age 91 years, I have now gained competence in communication skills, both written and oral. Formally these were my weakest areas. I have become a better listener. I have learned not to interrupt while listening. I am more mindful of remembering people’s names. My writing fluency is faster and more skilled which is a special source of joy and pleasure. I credit years of using the word processor computer to this fluency.
My life has been one of Life-Long-Learning, all was self-taught, often after inspiration from a “teacher”, but not in a classroom (after age 23). By age 40, after practicing Transcendental Meditation, I had learned to live virtually a stress-free life. That alone may explain my good physical and mental health now.
It also helps to be mindful of the value of vitamin and mineral supplements, antioxidants, etc. I am a non-smoker and a moderate drinker of wine and beer.
Good habits relate to a good life. I find it easy to change habits almost upon command. Just do it by persistence and will power. When a friend points out a possible bad habit, please listen and make needed changes. You have been given a gift by a friend. Sadly, this gift is often taken as an insult or a criticism. Humans do not like to change their habits. They need to be taught in grade schools how to listen, and grow better toward their full potential.
TAKE CHARGE OF YOUR LIFE
BECOME THE CAPTAIN OF YOUR SHIP