Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A Mind is not a Cushion

Cushions should be comfortable. Soft, squishy, perhaps with a permanent impression from constant use. You should be able to sink right into its cozy familiarity. That is what comfort is all about.

Too much comfort, however, can come at a price. Sitting in that favorite armchair for long stretches can make your body as soft as that cushion. Not to mention the strain on a back that is in a constant slouch.

Minds are not cushions. As nice as it is to occasionally enjoy the comfort of the familiar, challenge is what keeps a brain strong and active. When my kids were younger, I always had to poke and prod them into more difficult areas. Why learn multiplication when they know how to add? Why read a novel when there are picture books? Time and again I would need to give pep talks to encourage them to move into unfamiliar territory, out of the comfort zone. I would remind them that tasks they found easy were once difficult. The challenge eases with practice, just as those new denim jeans soften with constant wear. Keeping mentally active is as important as keeping physically active. I read this recent study about how important it is, even for adults. Learning and doing new things rewires the brain, creating new pathways to make a more efficient thinking machine.

Comfort has its place. After struggling with a puzzling math challenge or science experiment, it's nice to sink back into familiarity with a simple story or a favorite DVD. The point is to avoid getting too comfortable.


Mama Self said...

I love it!! Nope, a mind is definitely NOT a cushion. :)

Oh - and we did a volcano this year...

Vicki said...

HAHAHA!! You are always so timely in your posts =)

I've been limbering up my mind by reinventing my blog...again. I like it even though it's not finished yet. Lol, not to mention I'm sure there's gonna be some fussing when the kids see what I used to make the header. (hehe)

I even gave your blog an special link at the top!! It's my way to remind myself of what you always advise me to do: Find some laughter everyday. ;-)

Stop on by and give me a critic!
I'll be adding links to all the learning sites I've come across over the years soon.

Peace and Laughter!!


Inner Elder said...

I'm glad you made the point about life long learning. Older people who continue to learn new things keep their mind active as they age. I like to think this staves off memory loss and it certainly makes for a more interesting life. Love, Mom

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