Author Topic: Become a Superager - what hard mental challenge will you take on in 2017?  (Read 4035 times)

MarciaB

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 481
  • Age: 58
  • Location: Oregon
Here's an article in the New York Times about people who are mentally active well into late life, and whose brains look more like healthy 25-year olds:

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/31/opinion/sunday/how-to-become-a-superager.html?_r=0

It extols "strenuous mental effort" and encourages readers to take up a challenging activity (think: learn a new language, or take up a musical instrument...in short, something hard and frustrating and that you need to really work at).

So - I've decided to (finally!) learn some chemistry. Having had none in high school, and having dropped out of biology in college (because, well, you kind of need some chemistry to manage biology), and basically being an all-around science zero...I am determined to learn some simple concepts and be able to demonstrate them in simple problems. And then move from there and get through a high school textbook, or maybe the Chemistry for Dummies book or something (I'd appreciate any suggestions on this).

What will you do with your brain in 2017 to help you be a superager?

Rural

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4835
 Oh, I'm in. I started this fall, actually going back and re-taking a math class I haven't thought about in 30 years.  I need one more repeat class from as long ago, but then in the fall term, I'm starting on new material.


 I'm a college professor, but this stuff is far enough outside my field I haven't used it in years and years. It helps me, though, to be able to take the classes themselves.

MarciaB

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 481
  • Age: 58
  • Location: Oregon
Oh, I'm in. I started this fall, actually going back and re-taking a math class I haven't thought about in 30 years.  I need one more repeat class from as long ago, but then in the fall term, I'm starting on new material.


 I'm a college professor, but this stuff is far enough outside my field I haven't used it in years and years. It helps me, though, to be able to take the classes themselves.

Hey, good for you! I'm an educator too and I think it's good for our students and colleagues to see us attempting new/difficult things.

Metta

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 662
I'm in as well. I have two challenges. The first (and most important to me) is to learn how to write three kinds of novels (by successfully writing them): Mystery/Thriller, Science Fiction, and Romance. I don't really know how to do this so I anticipate that it will be a good challenge.

Second, I want to learn a language. Currently my husband and I are considering one of these three: Greek, Latin, Italian, or Spanish. We will settle on the language after January 14.

We would also like to learn to dance, which is something that is very difficult for us and both a physical and a mental challenge. However, we plan to put that one off until we see how the finances and other priorities look for the year.

marty998

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 6368
  • Location: Sydney, Oz
So - I've decided to (finally!) learn some chemistry.

Ooooh nice! Protons, neutrons and electrons... titrations, acids, bases & pH... oxidation... electrolysis...

Every home brewer also needs to understand chemistry.

(Every crystal meth manufacturer also needs to understand chemistry, but Breaking Bad has that covered already....)

alleykat

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 440
I really like this challenge.  I started learning Greek on duolingo this year but didn't stick to it.  I want to get back to that.  Also, I need to think what else I want to tackle.  I have and need to take on this kind of challenge.  I don't feel I am as mentally strong as I use to be and I don't like it.

tomita

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 142
  • Location: Toronto
I might do this, I would like to pass one tough statistics exam, that I failed before 2 times
 
later on I want to study grammar or maybe linguistics

 

DragonSlayer

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 176
I've been trying to learn Russian off and on for a couple of years. This year I want to be serious about it. Also, every year I pick a topic I don't know much about and make it a mission to learn as much as possible. This year I've picked the Roman Empire. It was sort of glossed over in school, but I think there are important lessons there.

Telecaster

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1860
  • Location: Seattle, WA
So - I've decided to (finally!) learn some chemistry. Having had none in high school, and having dropped out of biology in college (because, well, you kind of need some chemistry to manage biology), and basically being an all-around science zero...I am determined to learn some simple concepts and be able to demonstrate them in simple problems. And then move from there and get through a high school textbook, or maybe the Chemistry for Dummies book or something (I'd appreciate any suggestions on this).


I'm a chemist by training (but not by profession), and I have to say that chemistry itself is one of the most fascinating topics that I can think of.  But the way chemistry is taught and presented is a horrible, byzantine torture chamber, at least until you get into the upper levels. 

As a I suggestion, maybe try Organic Chemistry for Dummies.  The reason is that organic chemistry is more applicable to day to day situations (like brewing beer), and believe it or not, you don't need a lot of general chemistry (first year chemistry) to understand organic. 


Indio

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 326
I'm taking neuroscience and cybersecurity classes at coursera. Highly recommend it for learning from the living room couch. they have a very extensive array of classes and they cna be challenging too, if you don't know anything about the subject matter.
Good idea to do a Latin refresher. Haven't touched it since high school but used it to learn Spanish and Italian.

Lagom

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1258
  • Age: 36
  • Location: SF Bay Area
Re: Become a Superager - what hard mental challenge will you take on in 2017?
« Reply #10 on: January 04, 2017, 09:18:52 PM »
Great topic. This year I am teaching myself to code, putting 20+ hours/week into the Odin Project (A comprehensive self-study curriculum focused on Ruby/Rails/Javascript). I have years of very surface level dabbling, but have never done anything close to a deep dive. May or may not do anything with it, but long term rough concept is to freelance a bit as a side hustle and/or pro bono for local businesses/small nonprofits I want to support. Depending on how far down the rabbit hole I go, I might even switch careers completely in a year or two, but let's see how the next six months go first. :)

Mezzie

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 818
    • Mezzie Learns
Re: Become a Superager - what hard mental challenge will you take on in 2017?
« Reply #11 on: January 05, 2017, 08:57:00 AM »
I'm working on German and maintaining Spanish. My family wants to learn Mandarin, so that may come into play at some point this year, too.

chrisviola

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 9
Re: Become a Superager - what hard mental challenge will you take on in 2017?
« Reply #12 on: January 05, 2017, 09:14:51 AM »
Awesome topic! Starting this past Fall I've been pushing myself through Trigonometry, Precalculus, and now Calculus over on Khan Academy. Also, I have been learning German through Duolingo, and guitar through Rocksmith on the Xbox 360 for the past month. I hadn't heard of Odin Project but I did a few courses on Codecademy last Fall and found them just a little too simplistic. I think I will start up Odin Project soon.

I just told myself that I think I should do this for the rest of my life, pushing myself to learn especially when it feels uncomfortable. So far so good. It's exciting to think of what I will be capable of in just a few years!

cityfolks

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 77
  • Location: Baltimore
    • domestic8
Re: Become a Superager - what hard mental challenge will you take on in 2017?
« Reply #13 on: January 05, 2017, 02:02:30 PM »
I'm about 35% of the way "through" French in Duolingo, however they measure that, and intend to keep on keeping on with that. Now that my little owl has his champagne tracksuit I don't find the "rewards" as enticing.

I'm also bumping some colorwork patterns up to the top of my knitting queue, and we're starting a neighborhood craft circle that is hopefully going to include some skill swapping so I can learn embroidery.

My mom did a NYT crossword in pen while they were visiting over the holidays. When I acted impressed she shrugged it off with, "up until Thursday I can do it in pen." She sets the bar high!

Libertea

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 383
  • Age: 44
  • Location: USA
Re: Become a Superager - what hard mental challenge will you take on in 2017?
« Reply #14 on: January 07, 2017, 11:19:57 AM »
I think this is a great topic too.  I just semi-retired last week and I have a few projects, in order from easiest to hardest:

1) maintain and continue to improve foreign language #1 (already fairly fluent, starting out at level 10/54% on Duolingo, would like to live and/or work abroad at some point)

2) learn foreign language #2 (no background, started out at level 1 on Duolingo on Jan 2 and just reached level 4, will be immersing myself for two months starting in April via travel abroad solo with no fellow English speakers to "help")

3) internship for new semi-FIRE job which will require me to learn/become "expert" in a new area and synthesize info from my previous two careers in a new way (this is actually a three year project so ongoing through 2019)

Speaking of Duolingo, do any of you belong to clubs for your languages?  How does that work, and how do you find people to make a club with if you don't know anyone working on your language IRL?

Mongoose

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2410
Re: Become a Superager - what hard mental challenge will you take on in 2017?
« Reply #15 on: January 07, 2017, 05:29:51 PM »
Relearning Spanish and learning French with my kids. They want to learn Mandarin as well (little sponges!) but I've currently capped them at 2 new languages.

I'm also continuing my part time research science. Plus, homeschooling is sharpening all my skills (teaching 2 grades and a lot of stuff I haven't used for years).

serious_pete

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 144
  • Age: 42
  • Location: Manchester, UK
Re: Become a Superager - what hard mental challenge will you take on in 2017?
« Reply #16 on: January 08, 2017, 03:38:28 AM »
Ok I'm in on this one. Firstly I have a young baby and a possibly autistic three year and a challenging job, so balancing all that will keep me sharp. I'm learning finger style guitar and play a little bjj so those are my challenges. Although they're both physical, the learning and mental aspect is huge in both.

dreams_and_discoveries

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 929
  • Location: London, UK
Re: Become a Superager - what hard mental challenge will you take on in 2017?
« Reply #17 on: January 08, 2017, 04:22:51 AM »
I'm a subscriber to this theory.

After I realised it was unrealistic to expect my job to provide mental challenge, I've changed my mindset to expect it to just provide income.

Now i get my mental challenges elsewhere, I've just finished (hopefully successfully) a Masters in English, which was a strethc for this engineering graduate... and now I'm onto my next idea.....learning Chinese.

Villanelle

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2797
Re: Become a Superager - what hard mental challenge will you take on in 2017?
« Reply #18 on: January 08, 2017, 05:21:30 AM »
I'm working on learning some Japanese, including reading and writing hiragana and katakana. 

I'm also getting back in to chess.  I started teaching myself chess a few years ago, and then it kind of get pushed to the side when things got crazy, and I'd like to start up with that again.

katscratch

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1319
  • Location: Minnesota
Re: Become a Superager - what hard mental challenge will you take on in 2017?
« Reply #19 on: January 11, 2017, 07:55:23 AM »
I've been learning/self-researching neuroplasticity.  Which I find ironically amusing.  It's somewhat relevant to my work, but mostly I think brains are awesome.

I'm also planning to re-learn bass guitar (I played upright for ten years or so when I was younger).  My son bought me an electric bass a few years ago and we discovered Rocksmith together. I slacked off last year and my left hand doesn't seem to have a very robust memory ;)

Rural

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4835
Re: Become a Superager - what hard mental challenge will you take on in 2017?
« Reply #20 on: January 11, 2017, 07:39:42 PM »
Sadly, one class in, and I'm afraid I'm going to be bored out of my mind this semester.

chrisviola

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 9
Re: Become a Superager - what hard mental challenge will you take on in 2017?
« Reply #21 on: January 12, 2017, 09:39:24 AM »
Rural, are you in school right now or just taking a single course? I was a crappy college student back in my day, but I've found I'm a way better student in online courses where I can set my own pace.

Rural

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4835
Re: Become a Superager - what hard mental challenge will you take on in 2017?
« Reply #22 on: January 12, 2017, 05:24:41 PM »
Rural, are you in school right now or just taking a single course? I was a crappy college student back in my day, but I've found I'm a way better student in online courses where I can set my own pace.


Just a single course - I'm a full-time professor, and that's all I can squeeze in. I've tried some MOOCs that allow self-pacing, and I do okay with them sometimes, and sometimes I lose interest. I've not taken a traditional online course (tied to a semester, for credit) in spite of the fact I've been teaching that way for nearly 20 years (or maybe there's a causal relationship - there weren't any online courses when I was in school).

Kaybee

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 131
  • Location: Alberta
Re: Become a Superager - what hard mental challenge will you take on in 2017?
« Reply #23 on: January 16, 2017, 09:22:05 AM »
Just chiming in to say that I love all you "continual learners"!!  Most of my friends/colleagues give me side eye when I mention the classes I sign up for.  I don't seem to stay with any particular field/topic, I just try to do things I'm not familiar with so I keep "stretching" myself.  One year, I took adult beginner ballet lessons (and learned people like me are NOT meant to be graceful ballerinas), another year I took Polish language classes and got to a decent conversational level.  Creative urges were NOT encouraged during my childhood (unless it was musical and meant to be used in church) so I'll be starting an art class this week.  I know there are likely more mustachian ways to acquire art skills but I can barely hold a pencil properly, need a reason to get out of the house and the class is offered through my city's recreation department so quite cheap (and I like supporting the rec department as I think its a great resource for people who can't afford more expensive private lessons/leagues in various sports or subjects).

I *am* being mustachian in my language learning/maintenance efforts though.  I use Duolingo, go to free MeetUps for language speakers and watch movies/shows in other languages to maintain my French and Spanish and to work on learning Italian.

rachael talcott

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 286
  • Age: 45
  • Location: TN
Re: Become a Superager - what hard mental challenge will you take on in 2017?
« Reply #24 on: January 26, 2017, 02:42:12 PM »
I'm in!  I want to learn French.  I've just signed up for a class that begins in Feb.

MarciaB

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 481
  • Age: 58
  • Location: Oregon
Re: Become a Superager - what hard mental challenge will you take on in 2017?
« Reply #25 on: January 29, 2017, 04:11:06 PM »
So - I've decided to (finally!) learn some chemistry. Having had none in high school, and having dropped out of biology in college (because, well, you kind of need some chemistry to manage biology), and basically being an all-around science zero...I am determined to learn some simple concepts and be able to demonstrate them in simple problems. And then move from there and get through a high school textbook, or maybe the Chemistry for Dummies book or something (I'd appreciate any suggestions on this).


I'm a chemist by training (but not by profession), and I have to say that chemistry itself is one of the most fascinating topics that I can think of.  But the way chemistry is taught and presented is a horrible, byzantine torture chamber, at least until you get into the upper levels. 

As a I suggestion, maybe try Organic Chemistry for Dummies.  The reason is that organic chemistry is more applicable to day to day situations (like brewing beer), and believe it or not, you don't need a lot of general chemistry (first year chemistry) to understand organic.

Thanks Telecaster. And I've followed your advice and checked out Organic Chemistry 1 for Dummies. And holy crap is this stuff challenging, intriguing, really great...and hard! I'm enjoying it a lot. And rereading a lot. And then googling a topic to have it explained in a different way. It's just what I was looking to do. I can feel the new brain pathways laying themselves down...

chrisviola

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 9
Re: Become a Superager - what hard mental challenge will you take on in 2017?
« Reply #26 on: January 30, 2017, 10:47:00 AM »
Lagom mentioned the Odin Project so I checked it out. One of the first few links it recommends was a course on Coursera called Learning How to Learn https://www.coursera.org/learn/learning-how-to-learn/home/welcome. I just completed the course and really enjoyed it. It sums up and adds to some stray observations that I've had in my own life as to why I seem to learn some things and struggle through others, and how to eventually make those breakthroughs. I think it's an excellent use of time for anyone shooting to become a Superager.