How to embrace your inner-adult
TLDR: your brain can always learn new tricks
DD HQ here. Have you ever stopped yourself from doing something new because you thought: I’m way too old for this?
We know, we know - life’s hamster wheel has a constant drumbeat. It doesn’t seem like there’s time for curiosity and play when responsibilities are calling, and plus, when we’re not moving as quickly or efficiently as possible, it feels like something is broken.
But, think of the last time you tried cooking a new dish. Or even spent an extra moment looking for that last stubborn puzzle piece. What if we told you that the resistance you felt while trying something new wasn’t a bad thing, but in fact, was making your creative brain more flexible?
TLDR: mental flexibility doesn’t just sound cool. It’s an under-the-radar cornerstone of emotional, psychological and even long-term brain health.
If this is news to you, you’re not alone. That’s because up until very recently the field of neuroscience was very much giving you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Before we get into the science - ngl - at DD HQ we’re kind of obsessed with the brain for this reason: when you really start to dive into it the brain is still largely undiscovered. We like to imagine it similar to the deep ocean or outer space - there’s just so much we just don’t know...yet.
And, the field of neuroplasticity is one of those wild, undiscovered areas.
Up until the 1960s - only a few decades ago - scientists theorized that once our brains became ‘fully developed’ at age 25, the chance of creating new connections in there was slim to none. The leading research thought that only kids brains were filled with imagination, curiosity and openness.
And us adults? They said our brains just…deteriorated with age.
Thankfully, like much of modern science, those old-school theories have been flipped on their head. We now know that our brains have the capacity to learn and make new connections at any age. Even more, by actively helping our brains become more ‘plastic’ we can think more creatively in the right now and prevent long-term brain issues down the road.
Let’s do a quick (and more fun) refresher on high school science. Imagine your brain is structured like the Milky Way. The stars - 86 billion to be exact - are the same exact amount as the neurons in our brains. And, those neurons shining all the time; they’re the worker bees of the brain.
But, since we can’t really create more neurons, we need to manipulate the connections between them. And, that’s where neuroplasticity comes in. It’s literally our brain’s ability to ‘rewire’ itself and build more connections - synapses - between our shining neurons.
Even though our brains have the capacity to develop new connections at any age - we have to do it actively. Think about it this way; as kids, our brains are collecting new experiences all the time. So much so, they’re creating 15,000 new synapses per neuron. But as adults? It’s only 7,500.
That’s why creative thinking - especially as adults - is so important.
Creativity is openness to new experiences. It helps us collect more inputs and make more connections. Also, by developing manual dexterity through creative practices like painting or even using clay, we’re doubling the mental workout.
So, each time you feel the resistance of your creative brain whirling up, think of it like any other muscle in your body. The more resistance you use, the stronger it gets, and ultimately, the longer we can use our creative, curious brains.
Ready to keep nerding out + embracing your inner, everchanging, always learning adult with us? 🧠
Katina + Dupi
and the entire team @ DD HQ
An idea to noodle on 💭
Creativity changes how you see the world [literally]
THINK ON THIS: Making new connections helps your brain get stronger. Literally. A famous neuroscience study looked at the brains of nuns (yes, nuns) and how ‘dense’ they were. The study found that the more connections between disparate parts of the brain, the more protected the nuns were against cognitive decline even if their brains were literally, physically deteriorating. Let that sink in. Guess how they strengthened their brains? Reading + creating.
…MAYBE NOT THAT: Learning doesn’t need to look like what it did in school. Creative thinking - i.e. openness - is learning. It’s creating new connections between those neuron worker bees to help you see the world…differently. So, the next time you experiment with something new, no matter how small, think of it as a mental workout.
Inside our brains at DD HQ 🧠
Want to learn more about your brain chemistry? This podcast is it. Re: our conversation last week ab anti-habit-hacking, this piece explains why happiness is a LT habit (scientifically). This is slightly off-topic but our inner-kid was crying when we learned Skittles are unfit for consumption?! We’re into it: the slacker mentality is here to stay.
Ideas from the DD Crew 🛸
Our team @ DD HQ is constantly creating - at work and for fun. DD coach + team member, Kim, shared this in our Discord channel this week during our #dropandcreate reflection. Can you guess what it’s made from? A hint: it sparked a convo ab the catharsis of breaking stuff to make something new 💭