Choices: food for the brain into 2018

We reach the end of another calendar year and for many it’s that time to reassess life–as it was lived and how it may change. I took a decision a while back to do that on my birthday, given that date had much more personal meaning. So, I’ll just take a stroll through some of what that sentiment represents.

From the time that we are born our lives have been about one thing, beyond staying alive–choice. However, we try to dress up what we do, it comes down to that process. Give it fancy names like ‘prioritization’ or ‘rationalization’, it’s the same: deciding what to do and in what order.

Some of us have tried to convince ourselves and others that it’s possible to fudge this through so-called multitasking. Whatever, we think we are doing, our brains and bodies and things with which we interact will tell us that nothing is happening simultaneously, even if the difference is in nanoseconds. So, it’s often better to make the separation clear, even if that means give less time, energy, other resources to processes than we think is ideal. Like eating a meal; chew each mouthful carefully, swallow, start again; take a mouthful of fluid, swallow, start again. The eating analogy is helpful to show the problems of trying to do even two simple tasks at the same time.

But, choices are what make life so unbearable for many, in that they are the victims of others’ choices, and their own get subordinated. I can’t solve that, other than to fall back on my father’s advice of worry about what you can control.

As I age, inevitably, one of the things I cherish most that I feel I can control is my own thinking. If you know me at all well, you know that I am fiercely independent in my thinking 🙂 I am amenable to having my mind changed, but be prepared for a real battle, because I’m convinced I think clearly, and if I suspect fuzzy thinking, my hackles rise further and faster.

Many pieces of research now tell us that, as we age, we need to keep living a healthy life to help keep the brain working at a high rate. People who want to scoff at those who spend time doing crosswords, or numbers or words games, or something that challenges thought processes, haven’t yet hit a wall where thinking gets fuzzy. Just letting the imagination run wild can go a long way in the process. So, for older people, being with younger people, especially very young children can offer some of the best brain exercise. Try reasoning with children!

So, in advance of my birthday next month, I’m setting in train another year of choosing to think independently, along with taking more walks to help the process.

Roll on 2018.

Author: Dennis G Jones (aka 'The Grasshopper')

Retired International Monetary Fund economist. My blog is for organizing my ideas and thoughts about a range of topics. I was born in Jamaica, but spent 30 years being educated, living, and working in the UK. I lived in the USA for two decades, and worked and travelled abroad, extensively, throughout my careers and for pleasure. My views have a wide international perspective. Father of 3 girls. Also, married to an economist. :)

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