How would you like some advice about living the best life you can, for the rest of your life?
The eminent neuroscientist, Dr Michael Merzenich, gave a couple of hundred people some tips on how to do just that. They attended his talk at the I Can Change My Brain conference in Melbourne on 26 February, 2016.
I was in the audience with a group of my colleagues from LearnFast.
We went along to the conference to hear Dr Merzenich speak about the latest in neuroscience research, and how it can be used to grow brain power and manage brain health. We were especially interested in how the brain research can be used to improve learning for children, teenagers and adults of all ages.
Dr Merzenich did not disappoint us. After all, he is widely known as the "father of neuroplasticity". Last year he won the Kavli Prize. It is the neuroscience equivalent of the Nobel Prize. His talk was fascinating.
And at the end he gave us a bonus. He said "I'm now going to give you some advice you didn't ask for." And he gave this advice for living the best life we can:
- Focus on the Positive
- Keep Learning
- Seek challenges
- Improve your processing speed (how fast you think)
- Be nice to people
- Focus on the Positive - In everyone's life there will be some things that don't go well. But generally, most of us are able to overcome most adversities. Overall your life is probably going to be more positive than negative. When negative events happen to you, try not to dwell on them any longer than is necessary to resolve them or minimise their impact.
- Keep Learning - there is a lot of research that confirms learning new things, new information and new skills helps keep brains sharp.
- Seek challenges - your brain needs novelty. Seek out new challenges. If you do Suduko every day, for example, that's great. But add a new challenge to your life - another mental challenge, or learn a new language, or a musical instrument. There are many ways to keep a challenge in your life.
- Improve your processing speed (how fast you think) - Our thinking speed can slow down as we age. This can impact how well we function in many areas of life. There are exercises to help, such as BrainHQ.
- Be nice to people. There is a lot of research that shows being nice to people, helping out and volunteering increases the neurotransmitter, dopamine.