Negative stereotypes about the adult brain are everywhere:
“Adults lose brain cells and IQ as they age.”
“Learning a language after childhood is hopeless.”
Or consider the Grand Poobah of adult learning stereotypes:
“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”
It’s hogwash. The truth is that the adult brain is a cognitive marvel that is fully capable of growing, creating meaning, forming connections, and learning new things all the way through to the end of life. Here are three of the many qualities adults should covet about their maturing minds, attributes that seem only to increase with time.
Nuance. Scholars label this dialectical thinking; in laymen’s terms, it’s the ability to see shades of gray. Children cannot do this. Most young adults are just awakening to the possibility of multiple “truths” and learning to accept ambiguity. But the mature mind is capable of recognizing contradictions in everyday life, reconciling paradoxes and navigating an increasingly complex world.
Reflection. And add to that self-awareness, emotional independence, and moral courage. These milestones of adulthood, achievable by the seasoned mind, are the critical tools that allow adults to exercise sound judgment and engage with the world in powerfully constructive and meaningful ways.
Wisdom. The holy grail of the adult mind, the culmination of knowledge with experience and maturity. Caroline Bassett, a scholar in wisdom studies, proffers this definition:
“Wisdom is having sufficient awareness in a context or situation to behave in a manner most likely to produce outcomes that are satisfactory for all involved, including the biosphere.”
Sounds like something to look forward to.
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