“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” Andre Gide (French author and Nobel prize winner 1869-1951)In this series of articles we look at 5 essential ingredients for living a good life in our later years. I’ve called them the 5 B’s.
In this article we look at BE CURIOUS. Have you let go of the shoreline lately, to pick up on Andre Gide’s quote? These articles are an opportunity for you to do some self- coaching/ reflection. So grab a cuppa and your journal or paper and take 10 minutes, time out for yourself.
In the last week how many new things have you done? Food, places, meeting new people, reading, learning new skills, gathering knowledge?In the last month what are the new habits, routines or behaviours that you have tried?In the last month are there any new ways of thinking that you have tried out?
This reflection will give you a sense of how active you are in seeking those new horizons. Why is this important? We know from research on brain plasticity that the brain never stops changing its connections. We used to think the brain was fixed and simply deteriorated as we age. This is not true and the idea is that by continuous learning and having challenges in our environment we are able to keep our brains agile. The brain is continually rewiring itself by making new connections across neurons.
So we know learning is good for us as we age. But exploring new ideas, places, changing habits and questioning is also part of keeping us interested and alive- embracing a VIVA spirit. How do we do this? Here are some guidelines and also examples of what I try to do.
Follow paths you have never been down before. Turn left instead of right!
I travel many thousands of kilometres each year, living in the country as I do one and a half hours from Melbourne here in Australia. By taking different routes, exploring laneways and side roads and going to local towns I rarely go to in the past 2 months I have
- Bumped into an Alpaca Judging competition where breeders gather with judges awarding ribbons for the grandest animal. I went into the wrong pavilion at a local market and stumbled into the serious world of Alpaca Shows- I learned a lot from chatting to Breeders about these curious animals and met some great people. I spent an hour there before finding my way back to the country market
- Spent an hour learning the Salsa in a laneway festival in Melbourne that I adventured into- turned right instead of left…
- Found a stunning viaduct in the tiny village of Malmsbury in Central Victoria. I’ve travelled through the village many times but never stopped
- Found mineral springs, tiny sweet church halls, a great café/ general store with local produce, learned how to preserve olives and make quince paste from locals
- Followed a sign to the Great Stupa of Universal Compassion in 200 acres of bushland outside a regional city, Bendigo and walked through its amazing gardens and inside a huge Tibetan Buddhist temple which would seat a thousand people! All free- just turn left, get lost and follow the signs! It was opened by the Dalai Lama
Now you may not be into Alpaca’s or Buddhist Stupa’s but there are adventures out there that are at arm’s length and just need a little time, a sense of wonder and exploration to leave the main road and follow the side road. It can happen every day not just when we are on holidays.
What are the local places you have always wanted to explore? Think of a time when you “Turned left instead of right.” What did you find? It may have been on holiday or at another time. Remind yourself of the discovery and what you enjoyed. Tell us about it in the comments section of this article below.
Try new things
What are the foods you’d like to try? Have you ever explored different types of music? Search them out
Dress differently, Try new arts and crafts, build something, draw something, and sing something
Write down 5 new things you’d like to try in the next month
Talk to strangers- put the phone away!
I had a lovely conversation with a lady who complemented me on a necklace I was wearing. That’s all it took and I found out about her life in India and how to make my own Garam Masala. More than that it was a joyful connection which made my day a lively one.
Note to self- talk to 2 strangers a day!
Learn and give your brain a work-out
Learning opportunities are at your doorstep or in the Googlesphere. I set up Viva because I love learning and know very little about computers, website, pixels, social media etc. Tomorrow I start a Multimedia course at the local neighbourhood centre. I’m a bit nervous and excited but I need to know how to edit videos and manage my own social media.
What is something you’d like to learn… complete the sentence……I’ve always wanted to learn how to…….? It doesn’t have to be a qualification. Learn nearly anything and your brain will love you for it. Check out local community centres. Most countries have a U3A- University of the Third Age
Please leave comments below about how you stay curious. Share your ideas and experiences so others may learn. The Viva Community is very friendly!
Books about Brain Plasticity
Norman Doidge- The Brain That Changes Itself and the Brains Way of Healing
Gianfranco Denes- Neural Plasticity across the Life- Span
Sharon Begley- The Plastic Brain: Train your mind. Change your Brain
Benjamin Kramer- The Plastic Brain