As a mental health counselor, I’ve had my share of suicides, psychotics, schizophrenics, and a host of other tortured, lost souls: Men emasculated by women. Women abused by men. Siblings that can’t stop fighting. Couples that can’t stop quarreling. Addicts that can’t stop addicting and an aging populace that has lost its’ purpose. Recently, a teenager told me that she was ‘too old’ to start re-inventing herself. ‘Too old?’ She has a lifetime ahead of her. If she’s lucky, she’ll reinvent herself many times over.
I know what I’m talking about. In the last 5 years, I’ve changed cities and my entire friend group, taken up a new sport, learned how to play ukulele, had two knees replaced, two cataract surgeries and started working again. Between podcasts, reading books and observing others, I’m not done learning by a long shot.
Our brains start to solidify by age 25, when our neural pathways become well-worn into grooves. Change is still possible but it takes work. The key is to continuously create new pathways to break apart those stuck patterns in the brain. The older you get, the harder it is to break free of them. If you really want to change, you need three conditions:
- Focus on what you want to change.
- Create the right environment (meaning eat healthy, sleep deep and move often).
- Repeat/ practice (meaning do the ‘new’ thing, like learning ukulele, over and over).
Often, my older clients are reluctant to leave the house at all. Some only go as far as the mailbox. It’s not just COVID. Sometimes it’s due to physical issues but more often than not, they’ve simply forgotten all their options. Even if they think of things to do, they’re hesitant to do them alone. They feel stuck. I get it. But you know the irony? I meet far more people when I’m out alone than I do when I’m out with others.
Here’s the thing. Unless you believe in reincarnation, you have ONE life. There are no do-overs. From my perspective, many people not only live lives of quiet desperation, they feel STUCK. And the irony? They are not stuck at all. They just THINK they are. Look, you don’t need to burn the candle at both ends—you just need to light it.