The old adage ”use it or lose it” seems to apply to the human brain according to findings in neuroscience.  Studies of lifelong learners (most famously, a group of nuns in Mankato, Minnesota) show that engaging in a variety of stimulating activities throughout adult life can result in lower incidence of Alzheimer’s disease and better disability and mortality outcomes in old age.

We need to apply these findings to our own lives and create an integral program of lifelong learning activities that will pave the way for a healthier aging process.  Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences posits eight or nine intelligences:  Word Smart, Number/Logic Smart, Picture Smart, Music Smart, Body Smart, Nature Smart, People Smart, Self Smart, and possibly (Life Smart – or the existential intelligence). His theory provides a kind of template in following a program of lifelong learning. In addition to logic puzzles, crosswords, reading, and socializing, which are the activities usually mentioned in articles about lifelong learning, we can add to this being in nature, meditating, engaging in art activities, playing music (e.g. an instrument or singing), and regular physical activity.  You might even create an MI pie (see below) and put it up on a bulletin board or refrigerator as a reminder to ask the question:

         ”Have I Used All My Multiple Intelligences Today?

Pie graph illustrating the eight intelligences in Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences

For more information about Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences, get my practical guides to multiple intelligences for:

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Cover of book 7 Kinds of SmartBook cover of Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom, 4th edition by Thomas ArmstrongCover of book In Their Own Way: Discovering and Encouraging Your Child's Multiple Intelligences

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I’m the author of 20 books including my latest, a novel called Childless, which you can order from Amazon.

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