Can you lose your adaptability?

Can you lose your adaptability?

Brain Workout. The concept of brain activity. Training or sports activities on the treadmill . Vector illustration in a linear style isolated on white background

The simple definition of ‘adaptable’; the ability to adjust oneself readily to different conditions and circumstances.

My observation in others, as well as myself, is that as we grow older our ability to cope with change becomes more difficult and paralyzing.

My understanding of new technology is very limited. I still buy CDs, have no idea how services like Spotify and iTunes work, have a Smart TV which I am sure is ‘smarter’ than me, have only one computer screen (two frightens me – let alone three), and I don’t subscribe to Netflix, Presto, or Stan (I personally don’t need them) and am happy to fall asleep in front of the free-to-air television content – ads and all!

Is it because we are not willing to accept change, and want things to remain as they were? or do we lose the cognitive powers to understand why the change has occurred – and how to deal with it.

A recent study published in the key scientific journal ‘Neuron’ came to the conclusion that would appear to support my second explanation.

After a series of experiments with both young, and old, mice subjects – using grain and sweet flavored pellets – this very esteemed group of researchers from the Queensland Brain Institute concluded that in the older mice, activity in a key brain circuit called the striatum (which allows mammals to adapt to change) weakens with age.

I do feel so much better knowing that my aging brain is being compared to that of an aging mouse, and that I now have a genuine excuse that I can use when I am having trouble with any new technology.

But, if I am truthful, I also know that I am being lazy and not wanting to learn something new.

Like all the muscles in your body, I am quite sure that your brain – if you do not put it to use regularly – fades, becomes lazy, and eventually slow to respond.

To ensure your brain remains active you need to set goals in your retirement that challenge and strengthen your most important muscle: the brain.

I did read, with heightened interest, an article in Forbes magazine which discussed signs of an adaptable person – including;

  • People who experiment – you must remain open to change have the emotional tolerance, mental fortitude, and spiritual guidance to face uncertainty.
  • People who don’t whine – if you can’t change or influence a decision – suck it up and move on.
  • People who don’t blame others – forego the old, embrace the new, don’t hold grudges or eschew blame needlessly and absorb the change.
  • The curious! – curiosity enables growth, be eager to learn and continue to learn.
  • Those who open their minds and are willing to listen to other’s points of view ensuring they are not limited in their thinking or understanding.

A very good example of the above is my colleague PK, who has just been gifted with a drone. This will enable him to take amazing photos and videos, but first he will need to learn how to fly, control the drone, and the camera.

PK is demonstrating, very clearly, that a willingness to open your mind to new technology, to experiment, and to be curious can be a lot of fun – sorry PK – I am certainly not insinuating that you are old (or close to retirement!).

I do understand that the Queensland Brain Institute experiment did conclude that as we age the brain circuit striatum does grow tired, but seriously, I am sure you will agree that human beings are far more intelligent than a mouse, and more than capable of coping with change if we allow it too.


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