Aging, Losing Your Marbles?

Marbles 2

You may know or have even used the expression “losing your marbles” to describe the reality of aging.

The truth is that your marbles do get rearranged, and its perfectly normal – if you evolve.

We don’t just think thoughts, we think from a structure of reasoning.   There are ways we reason, connected something like a hair net, that connect a way of thinking that is predictable and can be measured.

Structures of reasoning are developmental and that they are supposed to be developing all of our lives.

The whole right hemisphere of our brain is largely for the function of managing novelty, of handling new information and new situations.   The right frontal lobe is for grabbing the information that needs inputting for use in the ongoing development of the brain, solving the challenges of living in the moment.

Your right frontal lobe isn’t busy gathering evidence to keep you convinced that how you reasoned 5 years ago still really works just fine. If it does, you’re in trouble, with a kind of rigidity that comes from wanting to remain safe rather than to encounter what is new and novel.

Your right hemisphere is engaged in encountering all of the new and novel things that are part of an evolving brain that last all of our lives. Does the brain shrink as we grow older?

Probably, if you don’t use it.

I don’t think Einstein’s brain had any shrinkage. I don’t believe that Monet, who painted into his 80’s, had any shrinkage.

Decline is not synonymous with aging. It is the product of perceived threat, resistance, and rigidity.

It happens when you decide that it’s time to get out of the parade and watch it go by. It happens when you rely more and more on what you already know, and use less and less of your brain to learn new things.

It happens when you start balking at learning how to text or use a smart phone, or resist learning new technology, not because you are making a choice to learn other more interesting things, but because you are afraid, and have for some reason, made a choice to withdraw, bit by bit, from life.

Alzheimer’s has a very long onset. It starts much earlier than we have believed. It begin as much as 25 years or more when younger people start to rigidify and become resistant to novelty, to learning new things, and to being open to new ideas.

The structure of your brain is designed to change. There are neurodevelopmental changes, cognitive changes, that are like stages of growth that change the “hair net” of reasoning in your brain.

You grow older, you grow wiser, deeper, the nature of your reasoning becomes more expansive.

Your marbles change around and you use them differently, with remarkable new perceptions, if you allow it to happen.

© Dr. William K. Larkin 

About the author

Dr. William K. Larkin
  • Mary Garvey Horst

    Prior to my association with ANI, I was curious and learning because that’s who I am. However, I was doing most of life in a similar fashion that I had done for the previous 15 or so years. I was making minimal adaptations here and there, but truly kind of coasting in my career. After being introduced to the body of work employed by the Applied NeuroScience Institute (e.g. the Emotional Gym, the Handbook of Character Strengths and Virtues, my own Top 10 Strengths, the UpSpiraLife Group process, neuropositivity, and the developing world of brain research), I opened up a new chapter of my life. I would have to say that my “marbles have been moved around” in such a way that my brain is re-wiring, integrating into exciting new possibilities, and alive with growth across all areas of mind/body/spirit.

  • Dr. gloria wright

    It is truly good news that if we seek novelty throughout life, it’s good for our brains. So
    many people wonder why I’m taking post-doctoral courses. “Do you need the credits?” No, I just need and want to keep using my noggin so it will stay pliable. I like learning new things. Sometimes I’m resistant in the early learning curve, but I usually stick with it.
    I recently visited my grown daughter and we were running errands. When she was little, her
    job was to make the list for our trips. Of course I was teaching spelling without her knowing it. Well, she still uses the to-do list – but she added GPS to my co-pilot responsibilities. Reversal of the roles, for sure. “Mama, you’re the worst co-pilot!” LOL. She’s lucky I have a sense of humor. I just got stubborn and stayed with it.
    I love learning new information and facing new situations and experiences. I like the
    unknown. I savor adventures with great zest. I’m around seniors who make their
    worlds and comfort zones smaller and smaller. I like to live large in a larger world. I so enjoy being around people who are curious and ask interesting questions and ponder the deeper meaning of life.
    I used to want to create a bumper sticker, “Comfort is a killer.” And, yes, I too like my
    comfort, but I also crave to get out of it and stretch my mind, my imagination
    and my memories. Most of us know that rigidity of any kind can be debilitating,
    yet we can get set in our ways.
    I do my best not to lose my marbles, but keep them fluid through rearranging. If Grandma
    Moses can do it, so can we. What are doing to add novelty to your life? When’s the last time you took an awe walk or trip? Who do you spend time with that stretches your opinions and beliefs? If you want to improve your tennis game, play with better players. The same is
    true for your mind. Play with people who are gracious, alive and have a sense of adventure! Finding enjoyment and savoring the new is good for us! Thank goodness!

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