Have you always envied people who seem to be a natural at playing an instrument or picking up languages? Do you feel hard done by your genes for not having a talent of your own? If yes, then read on to change your mindset, for it has been proven by neuroscientists that the concept of ‘innate talent’ is a complete myth.
One of the founders of modern neuroscience, Marian Diamond, who was lucky enough to have done research on Albert Einstein’s brain tissue, published clear evidence that the brain can change with experience and improve with enrichment. This means that there is nothing stopping you from becoming a guitarist or a linguist at the age of 40. All you need is a nurturing environment or teacher, practice and the belief that you can do it.
Our brains have a quality known as plasticity, which ensures that the brain keeps growing and changing according to our needs. In fact, as we grow older, our brain forms more neurological connections, to keep up with the variety of skills and capabilities that we pick up over our lifetimes.
However, learning new skills can be especially tough as we get older. Challenges like the lack of time and energy and anxiety around perfectionism need to be overcome in order to start learning. Social media can be a strong deterrent too with its constant stream of proof that everyone else is better than us at everything. What’s the point of even trying then? Science says that there is a point! Not only do you get better at something new with some initiative and practice, but you also protect your brain against dementia and memory loss.
While getting a subscription to Masterclass or a course on Udemy is a good idea, research has shown that community-based learning is a huge motivator in keeping people committed to learning goals and academic ambitions. Finding a peer group, even with people who might be at a different pace than yourself, gives you a shared sense of goal oriented fulfilment. A community environment can greatly help in increasing interest in an activity. Having people at a similar junction in their learning journey to share your progress with, meeting people from different walks of life and age groups and learning from each-others’ experiences can be a powerful motivator to continue the journey of learning for life.
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