My third grade teacher pelted me with an eraser which ricocheted off my head and landed back in his hand like an eraser boomerang.
Blinded by a cloud of chalk dust, I slowly raised my chalky white forehead from a puddle of drool that left a trail from my bottom lip to the desk. This wouldn’t be the last time my forehead was stamped with an eraser by old Mr. Kus.
I decided to give up on school during my third grade year. My plan was to sleep and daydream during class about what Disney World might be like. I could feel my brain shrinking from lack of stimulation.
Post college graduation was the second time I decided to take a learning hiatus. I figured my brain could use a break after four years of college so I took a non-challenging job installing circuit boards into dummy terminals. A dumb terminal is called just that because it’s only a display monitor with no processing power or CPU. My mind felt like a dumb terminal with no processing power.
I stopped reading and did absolutely nothing to enrich my mind. I could no longer hold a conversation nor offer anything of interest to the world. I vowed to never let that happen again.
Something happens to your brain when you decide to no longer challenge it. It’s as if you can feel it slowly starting to crumble into itty-bitty pieces. It’s the feeling you get after watching a Kardashians episode or after a 17-hour Breaking Bad viewing binge—although an excellent show, after 17 hours straight, I felt as if Darth Vader came down from planet Vulcan and melted my brain for not asking Lorraine to the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance.
Cognitive brain performance peaks in our early 40s
According to the Center for Brain Health at the University of Texas, the brain begins to power down at the age of 42. Our bodies are outliving our brains and cognitive brain performance peaks in our early 40s. Memory, problem solving, reasoning, speed of thinking and decision-making deteriorate during the later part of our lives.
Habits such as multitasking, frequent digital distractions, information overload, daily mundane routines, focusing on the wrong things, and poor health and fitness all contribute to the depletion of our brainpower.
Rachel Silverman from the Wall Street Journal article entitled, “Workplace Distractions: Here’s Why You Won’t Finish This Article,” states it can take a person 23 minutes to return to an original task after being distracted. A few distractions a day can shave off hours of productivity.
The constant flood of distractions pouring in from our digital devices is starting to take a toll on our precious brains.
The goal is to maintain peak brain performance until the day you die
Studies now indicate that you can exercise your mind just like you exercise the body. Prevent your brain from crumbling into pieces. If you plan to spend a good part of your day texting while driving or instagramming in the gym, make sure you are blocking out time to participate in activities that train your brain to focus with no interruptions.
Challenge the mind through yoga, deep reading, take an online class, write, draw, dance, or try out a martial art like Brazilian jiu-jitsu. A proper diet, good sleep, physical exercise, mentally stimulating exercises, and avoiding toxic mental routines are key to keeping your brain sharp.
Develop a rock-solid routine to practice every day so you can prevent your brain from melting away.
Photo by Jimbeanus