Back to the brain research stuff…..
The older you get, in order to keep your brain active and fresh, you need to constantly be introducing new information to your brain cells. While recalling old information is good and helps your memory skills, your brain really loves to learn new things. Each time you acquire new knowledge, your brain forms new connections. New connections use oxygen and oxygen helps to keep your brain in tip-top shape. If you want your brain to stay strong and active as you age, give it new material to work on on a regular basis.
As a long term substitute teacher, I get to be reacquainted with various topics that I didn’t pay much attention to on my first go around in high school. When I walk into a classroom, the students expect me to be an expert on that subject and I sure don’t want to let them down. Thus, I have been given an incentive to re-learn and re-apply knowledge acquired in days gone by.
Serving on a school board has been another way for me to immerse myself in learning opportunities by acquainting me with the many varied opportunities involved in the process of public education. I love being able to participate up close and personal with our district’s motto: “Learning for a Lifetime.”
Both of these jobs give me access to a more focused knowledge, which is certainly productive and worthwhile. However, I knew that I still needed to find some way where I was guaranteed a completely new and spontaneous learning activity on a regular basis. I have achieved this goal by doing Sudoku.
If you don’t know what Sudoku is, it is a grid of nine boxes placed inside a larger box. Then, the larger boxes are connected three across in three rows making a total of nine big boxes.
Your mission is to arrange the numbers 1-9 in such a way that they are not repeated in a line either diagonal or across, or in any of the boxes themselves. I was introduced to this brain-teasing activity by a friend and school board member of another local school district, Kathy T. We were attending a school board conference where the presentation wasn’t exactly top notch, when I noticed Kathy doing Sudoku. I had never seen it before, so I had her whisper to me how it works and give me some tips on how to get started. After some brief tutoring, I was off and working on my first Sudoku. At first, I thought it was simple enough to master. No big deal. Little did I know how tricky a Sudoku puzzle can be. Unlike a crossword puzzle where you are recalling words you are familiar with, the patterns for Sudoku puzzles are always something new and unfamiliar. Just the perfect remedy for maintaining a healthy brain. I call Sudoku my anti-Alzheimer’s weapon.
I try to finish a Sudoku puzzle every day. There are different skill levels to these things. I can easily knock out the very easy and easy puzzles. And most of the time, I do pretty well with the medium rated ones. But going beyond the medium level, I am usually not too successful in solving the higher levels. It can get frustrating but I don’t allow failure to deter me. I figure at least attempting a higher level puzzle is still a valuable brain activity because I am certainly stretching my abilities.
There are so many new learning opportunities around us. Look around, take an interest, make the time, and build your brain today.