Get Out of That Rut!

Have you ever broken your dominant arm and tried brushing your teeth with the other hand? A real pain, right?
But that broken bone was a good thing, too. Because while your arm was
mending, your brain was getting stronger too. It got stronger as you learned to write with your other hand. And eat. And brush your teeth. Whenever we use our brain to make our body do things it’s not used to doing, the brain gets stronger.
The giant spider web of neurons and synapses that fills the amazing three-pound organ inside our skulls gets denser and more complex. And that’s a good thing.
The happy news is that you don’t have to break a bone to put your brain to work learning new tasks. It’s simply a matter of getting out of your rut and doing everyday things just a little differently. Here are ten things to try, in addition to brushing your teeth with the “wrong” hand:
  • Tie your shoelaces a different way.
  • Watch a television show that’s broadcast in a foreign language.
  • Drive to work using a different route.
  • Reverse the order in which you read the newspaper.
  • Get dressed in the dark (but check your appearance in the light before you go out!).
  • Shop at a new grocery store.
  • Thread your belt through the loops in the opposite direction.
  • Put your earrings on in reverse order.
  • Kick a soccer ball with your non-dominant foot.
  • Walk backwards for one hundred steps.
After a while, doing things the new way won’t seem so new — or so awkward — at all. Meaning that your wonderful brain has trained your wonderful body to unfamiliar tasks. Now it’s time to give it more challenges. Like learning to play a musical instrument. Or counting to 20 in Mandarin Chinese. Working the New York Times crossword puzzle. Writing poetry.
Your brain muscles will thank you for the exercise. As they grow stronger every day.

~Jennie Ivey~

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