“Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.” Pablo Picasso
There is a myth about the brain that needs busting (Baby Boomers, take note). The myth says we lose brain power as we get older. It’s not true. In the last 10 years science has discovered a property of the brain called neuroplasticity, which is the way new stimuli and learning experiences reshape, reorganize, reintegrate and revitalize higher order brain function to tap more of your innate creative potential, no matter how old you are.
Your brain retains this neuroplastic quality throughout your life span. In short, brain power actually increases as you use it to stretch yourself in creative ways. Using a long neglected talent lights-up the neural networks in which it is embedded. The more you use it the more the brain expands these networks, integrating them with other networks to generate the related skill set that can produce something meaningful.
Many scientists consider neuroplasticity to be the most important discovery in medical science in the last 100 years. Neuroplasticity has expanded science’s view of human potential. When it comes to our potential for growth it appears that the sky is the limit.
What does this mean for Baby Boomers (or any one) who once dreamed of writing, painting, playing a musical instrument, flying a plane or learning a foreign language? It means they can pick up where they left off and, from there, develop their talent and skill. It’s never too late.
Studies of the careers and life cycles of impressionist and modern French and American painters consistently found that some artists bloom early (Picasso, Monet and Matisse) while others bloom later, producing exceptional art late in their life cycle (Grandma Moses, Cezanne, Van Gough and Rousseau).
L. Frank Braum didn’t write much fiction until mid-life and ended up creating one of the most popular books in children’s literature, The Wizard of Oz.
It is true in business as well. Late blooming entrepreneurs such as Mary Kay Ash, Colonel Sanders, and Sam Walton achieved their enormous success late in life.
Science found one essential trait that is common to both early and late bloomers. It is “innovative behavior.” This simply means you are willing to stretch an innate ability in new ways.
You can be 80-years-old and still rewire your brain to release a new flow of creativity. To repeat, the only condition neuroplasticity requires is the willingness to stretch yourself in new ways. Novelty is one of the qualities that grows a powerful brain. Excite brain cells with new learning and the brain literally rewires, making new connections that light-up and integrate a multitude of neural networks. The effect is holographic. Creative intelligence, psychological insight and practical skill combine to produce a meaningful result.
Neuroplasticity even applies where a difficult life and faulty genetics wired you for anxiety, belligerence, and pessimism. You can rewire your brain to make you more relaxed, happier and loving.
Exciting the brain with new learning could not be simpler. It is so simple that people often don’t believe such simple processes could generate such a major result. It can and does.