I recently read an article about potential Alzheimer’s prevention. It’s a subject pertinent to my family, and I began the article with some trepidation and sadness, thinking of my grandmother and my own future. By the middle of the article, though, I was grinning, and thinking of how novelty, a suggested preventative (according to the article), could be useful in so many other ways.
Keeping the brain active, the article advised, requires more than just old standbys like crossword puzzles. We need to challenge our minds constantly with new and different things, and some of the ideas proposed in the article delighted me. I began to think of novelty, in the sense suggested by the authors, as a way to not only keep a mind fresh, but to keep it uplifted.
…And The Spirit…
By novelty, I should explain, I don’t mean buying lots of new things, or constantly changing things in our life before they become comfortable or familiar. I mean a novel experience that, however briefly, takes us out of our daily routine and challenges us to confront the world in a different way.
The article I read suggested some wonderfully silly things, like hanging the pictures in your house upside down for a day, or wearing mittens on your hands while driving – nothing that would shake up your life, but things that would require your brain to take a moment to – whoa! – organize the new information it is receiving. To me, this made sense not only as it pertained to challenging my mind, but also to keeping myself upbeat and optimistic.
It is so easy to become ingrained in day to day monotony and forget to notice the countless, incredible occurrences that happen, constantly, all around us. When we purposely give ourselves, and our brains, a little jolt, we wake our senses up and give ourselves a chance to become more awake, more aware, to freshen up our minds and our spirits.
…With New Kinds of Silliness
What kind of novelties can you add to your day? The very best part about these kind of “new tricks” is that they can be safe, simple and totally free! Will you hang the pictures in your house upside down? Sleep with your head at the foot of the bed? Eat a meal blindfolded, concentrating on the smells, textures and sensations of the food? Wear your bedroom slippers while driving your car? Will you sing in the shower if you never have before, or walk backwards down the hall to your office?
My very favorite part of these brain exercises is that they give us permission to be silly, to do simple, goofy things just because we want to try them out, like most of us did when we were kids. Today I wrote my to-do list with my left-hand, and I laughed as I did, remembering elementary school and sitting with friends, trying to write our names in our best penmanship – with the wrong hand. I don’t know for sure if my left-handed writing strengthened my brain, but I did feel challenged, and most importantly, I had a smile on my face.
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