When I first watched the video of Jill Bolte Taylor on TED.com in college, my friends and I thought that the discussion was astounding. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/flyinghorsepix/3562409166/) We also joked that Jill Bolte Taylor looked like a witch doctor with her eyes closed, arms raised and moving about as she described her experience. But on the other hand, why wouldn’t she be closing her eyes and doing all this hand/arm actions? The brain (and her experience with it) is such a complex thing to describe. The functions of the brain are just too intricate, too profound, that when an intellectual like Dr. Taylor (who knows the brain) would describe it, words wouldn’t seem to be enough. She makes the brain seem like such a beautiful thing that we should take care of and really appreciate the wonders it can do, that WE can do. The reading on Cognitive Fitness teaches us how to do just that. It teaches us how to take care of our brains, and not take it for granted.
I think what is essential in keeping your brain fit is thinking productively. In class we differentiated Productive Thinking from Reproductive Thinking. Both ways of thinking will get your brain moving, that’s for sure. But the reading says that we need to challenge ourselves more, and this is what Productive Thinking will do. It gives us the challenge of finding alternative and new approaches as opposed to reproducing (answers) from experiences in the past. When we try to search for something new, we’re venturing into the unknown – we are made to look for and learn something different. This is stretching our abilities more and making are thoughts less rigid. This indeed is giving our brains more of a challenge. This very much related to our lessons on creativity. As mentioned in class (college version), “creative thinking is productive thinking” and that “when confronted with a problem, creative thinkers ask themselves how many different ways they can look at the problem, how they can rethink it, and how many different ways they can solve it.” That’s a lot of thinking/brain exercising.
Sir Ken Robinson said that “human intelligence is richer and more dynamic than we have been led to believe by formal academic education.” Indeed, “formal academic education” is not enough to fully develop our brains or at least exercise it enough to disprove the belief that our brain inevitably deteriorates as we grow older. We can’t just rely on subjects taught in school to keep us informed enough that our brains will stay active. Productive thinking addresses that “rich and dynamic intelligence” of ours and how it needs more than just learning what is taught to you. A lot of times, you have to learn on your own. Indeed, it may seem that the right side of the brain is more helpful because of creative and/or divergent thinking. But, a part of the reading explains that “although it’s important to stimulate creative, divergent thinking, you’ll derive just as much benefit, and perhaps more, from stimulating the analytical neural networks that are often viewed as left-hemispheric.” This cleared the air up a little for me and it reminded me to not take any side of my brain for granted. Both sides of the brain need proper exercise and although they “cater” to different skills, they both are equal. Both sides of my brain need me to exercise them so I can develop my full potential.
I have to my brain ("brain" by ~billybongbingbong on deviantart.com)
As I mentioned earlier, this reading was inspiring. It got me thinking about how cognitively fit I really am and how I should get even more fit. The reading provided a “Personal Program” to exercise our brains, and I’m happy that I already am doing most of the tips printed on there. I haven’t tried learning a new language or instrument recently for example but now I’m inspired to. More importantly, this reading inspires me to inspire others. I’m blessed to be able to spend a lot of time with all my grandparents. We even make jokes about them becoming senile and how it would benefit my mom and I (she started the joke) because then we’d be able to trick them into giving us money.
(This is my grandma, pretending to be senile. She's wearing glasses with the tag in her eye and acting like "her future self." I extremely doubt though that this is "her future self.")
My mom’s parents are very fun to be around. They love making jokes and acting like kids. My dad’s parents on the other hand are not as happy-go-lucky, but they’re also fun to be around. They make jokes as well and you can see the inner child in both of them, but they’re a bit stricter. My lolo (I call my maternal grandparents “grandma and grandpa” and my paternal grandparents “lolo and lola”) is the only one working, all my other grandparents have retired. My lolo says that if he stops working (he’s and engineer), he’ll get sick. I believe him, and I love that he’s very strong at his age (late 70s). I know that all of them are cognitively fit even if they’re all (apart from my lolo) retired, because they keep themselves occupied. They don’t just “wait” to grow older and older. They all busy themselves with a lot of things such as crafts, gardening, baking, and a lot more, but I want to remind them about doing more than can benefit the condition of their brains. I think it would be really nice to share this reading with them and make them even more fit. This reading inspired me and now I’m happy that I could inspire them.