Not all the time smart, but all the time thinking! ~Ben J Garner
This is something my Dad would say often as he worked to solve a problem in his work or deal with a life issue in general. The thought of him saying this makes me smile as he was a smart thinking man who influenced me greatly with his example of intentional life-long learning--which is mental exercise for the brain like physical exercise (walking, jogging, biking, swimming, etc.) is for the body. My Dad exercised his brain by developing the habit of being learning-based and having a growth mindset with his thinking. He maintained a healthy brain--spry and active-- well into his over 93 years of age.
It is important to exercise our brains through lifelong learning just as we do our bodies with physical exercise. There are various definitions of Lifelong learning, here are a couple:
- Lifelong learning is the "ongoing, voluntary, and self-motivated" pursuit of knowledge for either personal or professional reasons.
- Lifelong learning is the provision or use of both formal and informal learning opportunities throughout people's lives in order to foster the continuous development and improvement of the knowledge and skills needed for employment and/or personal fulfillment.
Cognitive and neurological health refers to the health of the brain and its overall function. Cognitive health is the combination of brain functions including memory, judgment, language, intuition and the ability to learn (cognition). When awake, we experience that our brains are in a constant flow of thoughts. The body and mind work together continually to produce physical (emotional), mental (feelings), and spiritual (intellectual) states in each human being. Research in the field of neuroscience-which deals with the structure or function of the nervous system and brain, illustrates the interplay between the body's physical and psycho-emotional structures.
The brain is an organ that needs to be continually exercised and kept fit by giving it new opportunities for learning and growth. An interesting article posted at Kindred Health Care’s website: How Continued Adult Learning Improves Brain Health, By Taylor Johnson, states that there are three different kinds of learning that are vital in staying brain fit:
- Maintenance Learning--helps you keep up with current events and trends in a topic.
- Growth Learning--adds knowledge and skills that you didn’t have before.
- Shock Learning--is when you learn something that contradicts knowledge or understanding that you already have.
According to Science Daily, mental faculties are best protected when they are used often and continued learning can slow the physical process of Alzheimer’s Disease. When we are in a learning state of mind, our brains are concentrating and extremely focused with our thoughts--and that which we focus on affects our senses, emotional states, our feelings, and therefore our own body's physical state. As life changes, there is a continual need to adapt to changes as they occur. Remember: No matter what your age is, lifelong learning will help shape your mental well being and is vital to your brain's health, therefore your body's too.
Here is some borrowed wisdom from others regarding learning and health:
Learning is the beginning of wealth. Learning is the beginning of health. Learning is the beginning of spirituality. Searching and learning is where the miracle process all begins. ~Jim Rohn
Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. ~Henry Ford
There is nothing more notable in Socrates than that he found time, when he was an old man, to learn music and dancing, and thought it time well spent. ~Michel de Montaigne
If you don't think your anxiety, depression, sadness and stress impact your physical health, think again. All of these emotions trigger chemical reactions in your body, which can lead to inflammation and a weakened immune system. Learn how to cope, sweet friend. There will always be dark days. ~Kris Carr
Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death. ~Albert Einstein
The mind has a mind of its own. ~Old saying
The mind is its own place and in itself, can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven. ~John Milton
We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves. ~Buddha
"Man can alter his life by altering his thinking." ~William James
By Judith Garner, Certified Health Coach
Helping people stay healthy inside & out!