Life in the past was a lot more difficult that it is today. Back during caveman times, any given day could result in getting gored or trampled by a Wooly Mammoth. Even as far back as one hundred years, during the late 19th century, we were still an agricultural society. There was always a chance of finding a snake in your garden or running into a wolf or a bear on a hunting trip. Life has gotten to be the safest of most secure it’s ever been. That only leaves one problem:
We Need Those Little Dangers In Our Lives
It’s become something of common knowledge that a large number of people tend to die soon after they retire. They no longer get their minds stimulated, so their minds tend to just stop. The mind needs to be stimulated the same way as the body. We exercise to stimulate muscle, challenging it to stay strong and healthy; if we don’t, the muscle wears away. The same thing can happen to the mind. If we don’t give it a few little challenges during the day, it slowly starts to atrophy.
You Need to Create Your Own Challenges
Today, all of our challenges have been conquered. The biggest threat most of us have in our day to day lives is a papercut. So, at this point, we need to create our own challenges to keep our brains going. Most people should try to develop several long-, medium-, and short-term challenges.
Long-term goals are challenges that you set for yourself that you don’t really intend to ever finish. That might seem like a contradiction, but what it means is that it’s something that you consistently work to better yourself with, and something you always work on.
Some examples of long-term challenges:
- Study a foreign language.
- Pick up a musical instrument.
- Learn some kind of skill (knitting, painting, woodworking.)
Medium-term challenges have a much more definite time frame. The simplest way to establish your medium-term challenges is to look at getting certifications. Most local schools (especially trade schools and community colleges) offers programs that range anywhere from 6 to 18 months. Some of these certifications also work as a way to improve yourself in general.
Some good ideas to consider:
- Auto Repair
- Massage Therapist (If you live near a college town, this is as good as a license to print money. Colleges like to keep their athletes healthy, and massage therapists are almost always in high demand.)
Short-term challenges really aren’t. In reality, it’s achieving a constant level of improvement that’s measured in short-term levels. Remember that old phrase your mom told you: “try something new everyday?” Well, the same principle applies, but in some things, every day is a bit much. Find a few things you’d like to improve, and set a fairly short time frame to do them in.
Some ideas to consider:
- Read a new book every two weeks.
- Try a new recipe every week. (NOTE: If you’re single and plan to try this on Date Night, I’d recommend giving it a dry run the night before, just to guarantee you don’t have to serve your significant other charcoal.)
- Begin meditating once a week.
- Try a new restaurant for lunch every Saturday.
Challenges are what keep us going. Keeping your brain active and constantly stimulated is the only way to keep it healthy. Safety has its place, but safety can quickly turn to stagnation, which can lead to atrophy. Atrophy can ruin even the best of us, so fight it. You’ll keep mentally active, better yourself, and might be able to find an enjoyable hobby that you can leverage into some spare pocket money. It’s a win all around.