Mental Engagement

Henry David Thoreau noted that “Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.” Research is consistent with this observation, revealing that staying active mentally and keeping busy relates to greater life satisfaction and a longer life. Engaging in regular day-to-day and leisure activities can help keep our brains healthy too. What matters is that the activities be mentally engaging.

Research has shown that doing challenging tasks and activities like juggling or driving a taxi in a complex city leads to increases in gray matter in different brain areas along with better memory performance. But a wide variety of activities can positively affect our brains and minds as long as they are engaging, novel, and dynamic. Tasks or problems to solve at work or around the house, or leisure activities like reading new books or taking up a new hobby, can fit the bill if they are challenging enough. Are you staying busy with the right activities that engage you mentally, and does your current life situation facilitate taking on new leisure or intellectual pursuits?