Change is Good for the Brain


Travel is always a good stretch, especially in a foreign language, but darn, I just don't see Italy in the picture this summer! 

Promise. The studio pics are coming. But there is still one dreadful corner of the studio to attack tomorrow. I spent today on non-cleaning tasks, and a little R & R in the virtual world led me to this great article in the New York Times: Can You Become A Creature of New Habits, by writer Janet Rae-Dupree. The story is rich and full of food for thought. But it did reinforce my sense that changing my space around, no matter how time consuming it may seem, does add a little pizazz to the thinking skills. Keep those same photos and inspirational notes on the same bulletin board for too long, I forget to see them.

Here's a couple of my favorite grafs (she's quoting Ryan, author of a book titled This Year I will... and her business partner Markova ):

Ms. Ryan and Ms. Markova have found what they call three zones of existence: comfort, stretch and stress. Comfort is the realm of existing habit. Stress occurs when a challenge is so far beyond current experience as to be overwhelming. It’s that stretch zone in the middle — activities that feel a bit awkward and unfamiliar — where true change occurs.

“Getting into the stretch zone is good for you,” Ms. Ryan says in “This Year I Will... .” “It helps keep your brain healthy. It turns out that unless we continue to learn new things, which challenges our brains to create new pathways, they literally begin to atrophy, which may result in dementia, Alzheimer’s and other brain diseases. Continuously stretching ourselves will even help us lose weight, according to one study. Researchers who asked folks to do something different every day — listen to a new radio station, for instance — found that they lost and kept off weight. No one is sure why, but scientists speculate that getting out of routines makes us more aware in general.”

 I think that's the situation I'm seeking right now with a teacher, a workshop, perhaps travel, maybe just a self-directed course of study in a different field or different focus. Sure, I plan to keep the main thing the main thing (my fiber art work and teaching), but I know I make better and more interesting art and am a better and more interesting teacher when I'm building new brain pathways.

What are your favorite ways to stretch? Anything new on your horizon that you'd like to share?

Just to keep it interesting, I'll send a small art prize to the first 5 readers who comment!