Last year during our second trip to Chile I was sitting in the Hotel Casa Higueras overlooking Valparaiso’s harbor reading Bill Burnett’s Advantage. The sun was rising just to my right lighting up the line of huge ships waiting their turn to dock. The sky was clear, blue and full of possibility. Mr. Burnett wrote that information can be stored in varied ways but knowledge comes only from human beings. I had never seen that difference.
Knowledge. Innovation. Novel approaches to solving problems. How are we to optimize the development of our capacity to operate in new ways? Is travel – or more to the point – setting up the conditions to experience, to live with, novelty – useful for promoting cognitive flexibility? Can it teach us, give us more knowledge of the ways of the world? Can that help our brain functioning? There is good evidence that learning increases the complexity of neuronal networks, adding processing power for dealing with life’s ups and downs.
Several years ago, during my first trip to South America, we were separated from our luggage during a strike at Sao Paolo airport. I was overwhelmed by catastrophic fantasies. I was certain that I would not have my medication, not to mention my clothing. But we had a surprisingly good time we in Sao Paolo, a city I would never have planned to visit. We spoke no Portuguese but a wonderful hotel concierge and many other store clerks went out of their way to assist us. What I had predicted to be awful turned out to be a magical Christmas holiday. I learned that what at first looked terrible turned out just fine.
On this current trip a year later, a departure delay out of O’Hare caused us to miss a connecting flight in Miami, once again becoming separated from our luggage, I reacted much differently. So what? Yes, there are inconveniences but the nice lady at the airport reassured me that the bags would arrive later in the day and she would have them delivered to our hotel as soon as possible. I figured we’d work things out some how. The bags arrived a few hours after we were settled in our room. We got on with a marvelous adventure in Chile. I was able to lean on the lessons I had learned during the previous trip.
How can you challenge your brain today? As I wrote in the E-Book offered on this website, be a good example for your patients by taking excellent care of yourself. Encourage them to do the same to optimize their treatment. Get plenty of exercise, have a healthy diet, optimize your BMI, and as the theme of this short piece suggests – travel, allow for novel experiences and challenges.
Our patients benefit from working with us beyond our standard treatment modalities. Take this seriously. Fixing your patients’ problems quickly and thoroughly will help your practice grow.
Please leave a comment regarding your favorite methods for cutting through the routine, adding the spice of newness to your life and pumping up BDNF for your and your patients’ brains. Don’t know about BDNF? You really should.