Bank on Your Brain

When you think about it — your brain is really your bank.

Without your brain, you can’t make bank.  Simple.  And as we get older, our cognitive function declines.  Fact.   So what can you do today and how can you plan tomorrow to maximize this all important muscle?

Most of us take our brains for granted.  It’s like that electric switch on your wall.  We flick it and trust that the lights will come on.  Most of us treat our brains the same way.  We don’t think much about how our brain works, how to conserve it, maintain it or help it work better. 

So what should we do? 

First — Stop taking your brain for granted. 

If you want to maximize the journey to your next chapter, I’d encourage you to start getting into some brain science.  There’s some phenomenal research being done. Some crazy ass stuff is being written by some entertaining and informative neuroscientists and others. 

Second — Learn how your brain functions. 

You’ll reap all kinds of benefits.  Most of all, learning new things about the brain will improve your brain.  Science now shows that continued intellectual engagement as you age improves your quality of life cognitively and physically. 

Did you know the brain is the fattiest organ of the body comprising about 2% of the body’s total weight, using 20% of the bodies energy and oxygen intake to function?   Because your brain is about 73% water, it only takes about 2% dehydration for your memory, attention and cognitive skills to be impacted.

Did you know you weren’t born with a set level of intelligence and number of brain cells? Your brain has the capacity to change throughout your lifetime due to a property known as brain plasticity. 

Your brain is where you start and stop.  Your brain is where your ability to make money, be creative, get to your next chapter begins and ends.   As you get older, it’s even more important to exercise your brain.   As Dr. Ipsit Vahia, Director of Geriatric Outpatient Services for Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital says,  “When you exercise, you engage your muscles to help improve overall health.  The same concept applies to the brain. You need to exercise it with new challenges to keep it healthy.

With the advent of new brain imaging technology, science is uncovering cool, new facts everyday.  This organ that is encased in complete darkness provides us with information that allows us to hear, see, feel physically,  feel emotionally, think, process information and is the organ that makes us human — capable of inhuman feats.  It blows the mind when you think about it. 

If you want to maximize the journey to your next chapter, below are a few book bundles to help and several additional resources and ideas to work your brain muscle.

Questions I invite you to consider as you read & explore:

  • What’s one small thing you’ve done today to enhance your brain?
  • What’s the interior transcript that is running in your mind today?
  • Are you keeping track of that transcript?
  • What’s that transcript gotten you to do today that may not help your brain function or move your forward?  Skip the gym? Eat an extra cookie?
  • When you hear that unhelpful little voice, do you have any tricks to ease its impact?

BookBundle

Book Published 2011
Image: David Shankbone
Book Published 1925
Image: George Charles Beresford

THE TELL TALE BRAIN BY V.S. RAMACHANDRAN

V.S. Ramachandran is one of the premier voices in the field of neuroscience today.  You will want to learn to pronounce his name.

His novel clinical treatments as well as his sense of humor are not always well received by some but his contributions to the field of neuroscience, driven by his curiosity and his novel questions, contributed significantly the last few decades to the mapping and understanding of brain function.

Rama, as his friends call him, has spent his life shedding light on brain function. In this book, he main exploration is with people who have suffered significant brain damage yet suddenly find themselves with enhanced artistic abilities.  Rama wants to know what has happened and if they can teach us something about ‘normal’ brain function.

This book may not be for everyone, but I urge you to give it a a read — or better  yet a listen — before you dismiss it as boring.  Understanding the most important organ in your body will go far to help you move toward your next chapter.

Below are some additional resources to understanding the man and his work:

Profile of V.S. Ramachandran in The Guardian:  The Marco Polo of Neuroscience

Rama’s Ted Talk – Three Clues to Understanding the Human Brain

Ian Thomson’s review of The Tell-Tale Brain in The Guardian

MRS. DALLOWAY BY VIRGINIA WOOLF

I read Mrs. Dalloway when I was in college.  I thought it was ok — but kind of boring.  Nothing really happens.

I just re-read it. How wrong I was.  It’s a magnificent piece of prose — words carefully chosen — that exemplifies the constant chatter that happens in our brains.  It’s a tour de force that skillfully, seamlessly weaves the voices of an omniscient narrator,  interior monologue, soliloquy, and exterior dialogue during the course of one day.  It is a graceful transcript of an ordinary day.  It is a lyrical example of what David Eagleman calls “all the activity that’s going on under the hood.”

After I wrote the paragraphs above, I found this little gem of a story from 2013 in Scientific American.   Enjoy!

BookBundle

Book Published 2011
Image: Brian Goldman
Book Published 1992
Image: Wikipedia

INCOGNITO BY DAVID EAGLEMAN

I love hearing (and reading) David Eagleman talk about the brain.  This Guggenheim Fellow is a fantastic teacher with an ability to explain complex concepts simply through compelling narrative story.

Incognito explores how the 3 pound rice pudding like substance between our ears we call our brain really works and the tricks it plays upon us as we take in the world around us.

It is one of those special books that effortlessly bridges the chasm between popular science and hard science.  If you want to think differently about your next chapter and the decisions ahead of you, pick up this book.

There are many entertaining and informative videos with Eagleman available.  Below are a few of my favorites. I hope you will choose to sample some.  I guarantee they will change how you think about thinking.

Eagleman talk:  Brain over mind?   published in 2013 by PopTech

Interview with Tom Bilyeu of Impact Theory Eagleman’s story shows how pivots in life can lead toward a more interesting path and the power of fictional narrative to help us understand science.

TEDxAlamo talk from 2009

Plus there’s more from David below under Other Books to Consider.

EINSTEIN’S DREAMS BY ALAN LIGHTMAN

The theoretical physicist, Alan Lightman wrote Einstein’s Dreams in 1993.  Now a modern cult classic, it imagines 30 dreams Einstein had as patent clerk in 1904 & 1905 as he began to envision a new theory of time.

This little novella is a creative musing of one man (Lightman) as he imagines another man’s brain (Einstein) as he upends our understanding of time with the Theory of Relativity.

What can you dream as you create a new chapter in your Universe?

Additional Resources

ONLINE LEARNING PLATFORMS

I’ve become a huge fan of on-line learning even before the 2020 pandemic.  These days there are several platforms that provide some great ‘classes’ on a multitude of subjects from Python programming to Plato.  Take your pick.  [But — be sure you’ve got the discipline to actually participate in the class!]

Most of these platforms are for-profit enterprises but virtually all of them have free options in some fashion and special ‘sales’ they run at certain times of the year.   I always recommend those options first, before paying full-price for a course.

If you’re looking to jump start yourself — I’d urge you to start by getting on their mailing lists for a period of time (you can always unsubscribe) and see if there isn’t something that might spark a passion and a new chapter in your life.

Please note:  I am not an affiliate nor do I have any personal or business investment in any of the recommendations below.

My current personal favorites are:

On-line ‘schools’ tend to have particular content niches — so do your homework to find out which platform is best for your learning needs.

PODCASTS

The podcast market is huge these days. Seems likes everyone has a favorite and every online  practitioner has a podcast. There’s a range of quality in content and style and after a few ‘listens’, you’ll be able to know which ones suit you. I’m a big fan of bouncing around with my listening.  Podcasts are a great way to sample ideas and authors without a heavy investment.

Here are a few podcasts I return to over and over:

 

If you’ve got other learning platforms or podcasts you’d recommend, let me know.  I would love to hear your suggestions.  Email me at Heidi@TheLiterarySalon.com

Happy Learning!

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