Everyone who knows this wishes they had known it earlier, but you won’t have to.
Your brain is at a rare time in your life. A time you won’t ever get again. A time where what you do right now will give you an unfair advantage over everyone else. A time when the brain is deciding what it wants to be.
Before the age of 25, you can dramatically alter the development of your brain for the rest of your life.
How your neurons develop
Researchers are uncovering more about our most complex organ every day. But here is what you need to know. When you’re born, you have twice the number of synapses as you do now.
Why? Think of a stone carver. They don’t begin with what they need but an excess. As they carve the stone, this means anything that isn’t much use to the statue, they can easily remove. It’s much easier to carve off excess than try to cobble some more stone together.
As your brain continues developing, these neurons slowly die off. Not from old age either. They’re murdered. And we don’t need Sherlock for this mystery. The murderer is you – your immune system tags and eliminates your own brain cells.
Why are you killing your own brain?
For a good reason, it’s much better to only have the neurons hanging around that you need. As the saying goes – less is more. Autism and schizophrenia have even been linked to inadequate pruning of your neurons and their connections.
If necessity is the mother of invention, your brain is the mother of necessity. Usefulness is the primary force acting on your noggin. That walnut between your ears isn’t a computer; it’s a use machine. Its primary aim is to store use.
Why? Use keeps you alive. But there’s something your brain hates with as much passion as it loves use, and that’s waste. Anything that isn’t useful gets the chop, including half of your neuronal connections.
Creating neural pathways
Synaptic “pruning” is what we call the culling of our neurons and dendritic connections. Dendrites are the web of tentacles that connect neighbouring neurons together.
Guess what dictates which neurons die? Use. Your brain shears away the neuronal pathways that receive little use. This leaves only the most travelled pathways remaining.
Take the following activities:
- Watching TV
- Spending hours on social media
- Playing video games
- Overindulging in food
The more you undertake these activities, the stronger your brain’s connections associated with them becomes. It soon becomes effortless to maintain these activities and agony to stop.
What about these?
- Exercising and eating healthy.
The less time we spend on these activities, the weaker their neural circuitry becomes. Your brain literally prunes away the connections encouraging these activities, and with this, they become even harder to do.
When does all this mostly happen?
Until the age of 25.
This means you have the power to lay down healthy and productive connections that will remain with you for the rest of your life.
You also have the power to resist the unhealthy temptations in your life now and forever weaken their grip on you. Now’s your chance. Take it.
What if you’re older than 25?
What if you’re older? No problem. The brain has a remarkable ability to adapt and change. Neuroplasticity occurs all throughout your life.
When you stop learning, you start dying.Albert Einstein
If you missed this advice before turning 25, don’t give it a second thought. All it means is a little more challenge in overcoming your vices and establishing healthy habits. The extra challenge will make the victory all the sweeter.
Never fall victim to thinking that it’s too late to change. You haven’t missed the train; there is always another one coming. It’s when you walk away, thinking it’s gone, that you miss it.
Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.Henry Ford