If children’s brains are referred to as sponges, able to soak up vast amounts of information at a rapid pace, what does this say about our older brains? Does that sponge really just dry up leaving us with a useless impermeable rock in its place? If so, we’re all in really big trouble.
Past research tells us that learning at an old age, while not impossible can be a frustrating hurdle for the majority of mature brains. Our older learning processes no longer have the same capacity as they did in our younger days, and well, I am not sure about you, but for me that’s just a wee bit depressing.
Developmental psychologists frequently use the term “critical learning period” to describe the optimal human learning period where we see the “ideal combination of sensory, motor, psychological, and motivational factors is present for learning a specified behavior.” This learning period involves a process called “imprinting,” which is the period of time when newborns and baby animals begin to create a pattern of behavior of recognition and identification. As we get older, due to external influences and adult responsibilities, it is nearly impossible to recreate this critical period, and our learning capability suffers for it.
So, have we really used up our one shot at expanding our intelligence and learning capacity?
Hope On the Horizon
Not really. New research suggests that it’s not that we cannot learn at an older age, it’s just that we need to learn a new way of learning. In fact, we are capable of learning new hobbies and talents at any age; it’s just a matter of adapting to new learning techniques.
This process of retraining our minds is more important as you get older because years of experience and wisdom need not go to waste as our mind starts down that road toward slowing down. It is possible to rejuvenate the mind’s power at any age; it just takes a thirst for learning and motivation.
This is especially important for anyone wanted to adapt to a new prepper lifestyle. In addition to the oh-so-interesting trials and tribulations of the aging process, we often let our middle aged minds be overwhelmed with the thought of learning new talents or skills that will be important in learning survival skills. The key is to not let yourself or anyone tell you that it’s too late to reinvent yourself, or even protect yourself. You are in the driver’s seat of your life; all you have to do is find the determination and will power to get you where you want to go.
Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way
Wanting to learn a new skill is easy, it’s actually doing it that takes some time. Often times, we are motivated to start this new lifestyle, but we get stuck with our own fear of the unknown. This doesn’t have to be the case though. It is possible to learn new tricks at an old or older age. It just means needing to learn using the active way, versus the passive educative route that we learned in our youth. We have to be an active participant in what information our mind retains. Decide what you want to learn, make a goal, set up a plan, and get motivated!
In order to optimize our older mind learning process there are a few tips to follow:
1. Don’t rely entirely on the Internet for learning; it’s a personal voyage that needs a human captain to drive it and proper instructor is key. If you are interested in self defense courses for the prepper lifestyle, for example, you may be able to learn some moves on your own or through the million of YouTube videos that exist in cyber space, but a qualified instructor is indispensable. In contrast to Internet learning, a good teacher is hands on and can help you increase agility, strength, and, above all, build up your self-confidence.
2. Find a partner. Whether it’s your best friend, spouse or neighbor, see if someone else would be interested in learning the same thing with you. Having a reliable partner is a great way to have someone you can talk to about your progress or frustrations as well as someone to keep you on track and motivated.
3. Patience is a virtue. At any age, learning is a process, so don’t expect too much too soon or you may lose motivation early on in the process. Pace yourself accordingly and concentrate on retention versus regurgitation of information. Survival planning is an immense undertaking, so try to not get overloaded with so much information. Set monthly goals for yourself in order to stay organized and maintain motivation.
4. Be strict with yourself, especially when it comes to survival planning. No matter what you’re learning, applying work principles to your learning strategy can be beneficial when you need structure. For instance, personalized survival guides take a lot of research, but they are essential in order to be prepared for anything that the future may bring. Research various scenarios and plan accordingly, but personalize it to your situation. Don’t let anyone tell you what is best for you and your family.
5. A bit of a challenge is key to learning. Even something seemingly peaceful like gardening can look so easy, but the reality is that learning how to garden for survival is a whole different carrot. There are a lot of techniques and strategies involved, and it can be a bit overwhelming. But as part of the survival basics, learning how to garden is fundamental. For more information on survival gardening, check out some Prepper Survival Gardening videos.
6. Try to avoid getting into a rut with your learning objectives. For example, don’t just stop with learning how to garden for survival. Learning how to store food goes hand in hand with survival planning. Food storage is nothing new, but the practice of food preservation for survival takes a lot of research. Food preservation for survival storage has a large following so you should try to find some new ideas by talking to new people that can give you advice on new practices and techniques.
7. Finally, don’t think that you have to be a maestro of whatever it is you want to learn. Sometimes just starting the learning process and making progress is enough to make us feel good about our learning capacity. You don’t have to pressure yourself to be the best at what you are trying to learn; it’s all about the effort.
Learning to prepare for the unknown can be a daunting task, but it’s not impossible at any age. The mind is never too old to learn and to adapt to new settings and lifestyles. It just takes motivation and determination. Don’t let anyone give you any slack for trying something new at your age. If our dreams of self-improvement have long been squashed by the old adage that old dogs can’t learn new tricks, well now is the time to show ‘em that this old dog still has some tough bite to it.
©2012 Off the Grid News