Broadening our knowledge, diversifying it, educating our curiosity, multiplying
life experiences, meeting people, traveling, are all factors that can
work together to maintain our mental more active in the long run. And
there is a theme particularly essential in this field, it's the language
skills. Since thought evolves in parallel with language and a part of
our mental is merged with our language, it's fundamental to develop our
language as far as possible. Diversifying our language plays the same
role as the diversification of the subjects for which we feel concerned.
Learning other languages being a real asset.
5) The organization of our thoughts
Aging and some forms of dementia that speed up this process lead to the
shrinking of our entire field of life. We give up, step by step, all our
activities, all our relationships, all our interests. It is therefore
important, before this happens, to sort out all this, in order to be in
state to go as far as possible in our passions and interests, and to maintain
them as active as possible, but not in an anarchic base, or in excess,
without ever having to force anything.
In order to make sorting possible in our thought, we can combine it with
the sorting in our living environment, and therefore in our housing and
at work. The decluttering helps to clean our memory, our thoughts. Cleaning
up the useless, putting order in what we keep, storing things in the proper
place, making lists if necessary, can help to clean the hard disk of our
thoughts. And this cleaning up goes much further than that. For, we are
organizing too our memories, our emotions, and so, the impact in our head
is probably much more important than the impact in our space.
Making lists is another way to learn how to manage our mental. Of course,
this is what people with memory disorders are advised to do to deal with
this deficiency. But at a preventive level, the list is excellent. Much
less for the purpose of using it later to not forget anything, than for
the one of clarifying what we are writing down at the moment that we are
writing it down : list of activities of the next day, to-do list at work,
list of the content of our cupboards (when decluttering and cleaning up),
shopping lists, list of things to take away on a trip. This allows to
avoid acting by impulsion, randomly, but in a more intentional and structured
Sorting out all the information that enter into our life, and without
letting it dictated by TV, radio, or newspaper and magazines. Choosing
what we read, watch, hear. Not allowing to be fed by what others have
chosen for us, and even less by advertising. Avoiding to be a catch-all
of information. Being interested in everything, but also selective, experimenting
of all kind, but not whatever, and not those that were specially made
up for our consuming.
Learning to meditate is not easy at first. Nothing really gives us the
desire to let go of our so convenient and comfortable automatisms. And
the present moment seems so boring. Yet, when we manage to capture, during
those moments, something to which we don't have access as long as our
thought automatims have the control on our will; then, we begin to understand
the nature of it and its interest. In some way, it could be considered
as getting in tune with the divine source in ourself. The same as when
we find love, the same as when we live intense positives emotions together
with a huge crowd of people, the same as when we experience large scale
natural phenomenon that subjugate us and brings us back to the same connection
(as during a solar eclipse, a sunset, a rainbow, the discovering at the
bend of a path of a magnificent landscape), the same as when we have an
insight, intuition, inspiration, a creative momentum that makes clear
for us that it comes from something much bigger than ourself.
As you can see, meditation plays an essential role in life. It becomes
as important as hygiene, sleep or nutrition. It can be seen as the best
method for maintaining our mental. And when I talk about meditation, this
includes all the methods that have a close effect and work together to
manage our mental.
7) Cultivating the doubt
In parallel with the meditation, within ourself, it's worth to remain
vigilant and to avoid taking our thoughts, opinions, judgments, beliefs
as true, right, reliable, generalizable to all. We should then test them,
verify them, deepen them, or wait for a change of mood in order to see
if, in another state of mind, they still seduce us as much. We should
only rely on them if, when repeated in time, they leave us serene. This
implies learning how to manage our emotions, in order to no longer take
for granted the automatic thoughts that occur when they are imposed on
us by these emotions,
Our emotions, our naivety, our credulity, our ignorance, our errors of
reasoning, or mistaken judgments, our distraction, and yet many other
aspects, can lead us down the garden path. It is important to bear that
in mind about everything.
Being able to cultivate the doubt while maintaining self-confidence is
a hard-to reach balance, and it's only possible on the long term, by disindentifying
from our thoughts.
8) Healing emotional wounds
On the other hand, it is essential to clean in our unconscious all the
old emotional wounds that keep on impacting our lives at present. Generally,
they have been refrained or denied. But there are still signs of them
at present, means by which we can detect them but also by which we can
heal from them.
Feelings of helplessness and submission are two important vectors which
have prevented us to manage freely our mental in the past, and which bring
then our present bugs. So, the wider is the mental autonomy from a very
early age, the more the risk of mental degeneration with age decreases.
It's likely that the preferred mode of communication may also have an
impact. In environments where manipulation, lying, unspoken things, innuendos,
denials, insinuations, double messages are common, it's much more difficult
to put thoughts in order, since lots of them, already when recorded, are
extremely muddled or incoherent. It's then important to learn putting
words on our feelings and emotions.
And it works the same in environments where violence is common : physic
violence but mostly psychological violence. We record very differently
the events when we are in a strong emotion or not, and all the more so
if it's a negative emotion, repeated over time, and combined with a feeling
of helplessness and lived in solitude (in the absence of support).
9) Managing without needing to have control over everything
The brain can also develop according to the protections that we are going
to develop related to our fears, our personal history, our guilt feelings,
social pressure, our solitude, our pain, ... If these protections are
becoming too high walls, we won't be in state to cross them anymore, and
we will get locked in always the same thoughts, the same behaviors, in
a vicious circle.
Having the control is not the solution. Finding meaning, seeking the key
for release, opening up, opening our heart, are the best ways.
It's important to avoid freezing and control. Our ability to improvise
and to face what's coming unexpectedly is therefore one of the keys to
the flexibility of how our brain works.
10) Opening of the heart
And above all, in order to keep the mind alert, it is essential to mobilize
it with concrete and promising projects that give meaning to our life,
with thoughts pointed towards the future, that are motivated by the heart.
If nothing is calling us in the future, if nothing mobilizes our heart,
if we don't give a strong meaning to what we are doing today for tomorrow;
we are losing the strength and energy that allow everything else. When
the will to live weakens, the will itself begins to disappear.
Aging well consists in living less and less for ourself, and more and
more for the others.