Give your brain a reason to stay sharp

What does adventure mean to you?

Would you describe yourself as adventurous?

What does being adventurous have to do with brain health?

Give your brain a reason to stay sharp, and it more likely will.

The dictionary defines adventure as ‘an unusual, exciting or daring experience’ which means adventure is in the eye of the beholder.

Anything that entails taking on a new challenge, learning a new skill, or stretching ourselves beyond our comfort zone can be viewed as an adventure. As such, adventure stimulates the growth of new connections between brain cells and fosters a greater sense of purpose and life satisfaction. All these factors keep our brain in optimal working order and protect us from cognitive decline.

For some people, adventure means learning a foreign language or immersing themselves in a new culture. For others, it means climbing Mt Fuji, meeting new people, taking up a new hobby (pickleball, anyone?) or using a novel ingredient in their cooking. The fact is that we can turn anything into an adventure — even something potentially unpleasant, such as dealing with an illness or resolving a relationship issue. The secret is to view difficulties as opportunities for growth and self-improvement rather than impediments to our happiness. The attitude we bring to whatever we experience makes an enormous difference to whether the experience will energise or drain us; improve or erode our mental health; strengthen or weaken our immune system.

When facing adversity, we often forget that our greatest power lies in how we choose to view the adversity. Could it be a chance to draw on our innate wisdom, strength and creativity? Might we emerge with a greater appreciation of what we have and what we’re capable of? This is not about forcing ourselves to be positive, but reminding ourselves to be curious about how we might view a situation from an empowering rather than disheartening perspective. When life throws you a lemon, make a tangy salad dressing!

Ask yourself:

  • How can I turn this experience into an adventure?
  • What can I learn from this — about myself or about life?
  • Where can I find more information?
  • What resources can I draw on?

An adventurous — interested, inquiring, imaginative — approach to life nourishes our mind and strengthens our body. Such an approach is more powerful than any prescription medications because it triggers the release of potent brain chemicals that improve our mood, mental acuity and physical health.

As modern medicine slowly starts to acknowledge the therapeutic benefits of cultivating a sense of adventure, how might you adopt a more adventurous attitude towards life?

This Health-e-Byte was inspired by my conversation with Steve Austin on ABC Radio Brisbane on 10th February. To listen, click here.

Please forward this email to anyone who might like a little more adventure in their life.

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