I am always interested in what helps us flourish…and having older people in the family, and looking at getting older myself as we all will do, (if healthy and lucky), I am interested in the social research as well as the neurophysiological stuff. So…
There is much research about just what it is that helps us as humans, grow and develop, sustain ourselves and flourish. And the research just keeps adding up, and these are the elements I keep talking about. And while you might use different words to describe these elements, they keep on looking something like these four:
– A sense of belonging and security
– Good loving relationships
– Feeling like you are in charge of your life, being in control or having personal power
– A strong and positive sense of self
And not far behind them are these three:
– Having a sense of meaning in life
– Other’s positive expectations. If people expect the best of someone, they may well see it emerge. The reverse is also true
– Hope. A sense of being able to survive, get through, continue.
On this favourite topic of mine, I continue to say that I think these ingredients are relevant both in people’s lives as well as having a place in group work, therapy, social contact groups, schools, sports clubs, communities; indeed all aspects of the welfare and health systems. Actually, they make sense in terms of people generally.
The latest brain research
We are finding out stuff we just never knew because of new technology like MRI’s. And we are discovering that sayings like: ‘You can’t teach an old dog new tricks…..may just not be true.
REAL YOUNG: The first three years of life are REALLY important…this is when we develop neural pathways….
ADOLESCENCE is REALLY important…there is a new development of grey matter and as always, it becomes a case of ‘use it or lose it’
GETTING OLDER. As we get older, if we wish to retain interest and vigour in life, it is REALLY important to ‘…learn something new, rather than simply replaying already-mastered skills.’ (P253 Norman Doidge. ‘The Brain that Changes Itself.’
I may be wrong here, but I think the message is: ‘DO STUFF!’ (Interesting stuff, fun stuff, new stuff, challening stuff…)
And so with resilience and ageing in mind, here is an (almost) gratuitous pic of my family at one of our ‘five generations’ gatherings.