Original Spanish version published in El Comercio newspaper (Peru) on January 20, 2018
Hacking, in the context of this article, refers to the activity of intervening, redefining, breaking with what is established, altering, giving new premises or values –that in theory provide more security or effectiveness–, in this case, to our brains.
Why do this? Today, science and technology present the serious possibility that human beings may live healthy lives until at least 110 years old. Healthy longevity –and ‘healthy’ is the key word– is the field on which many of the most innovative and powerful companies in the world are focusing, researching, and investing.
Given the possible extension of life with quality, it is a good time to decide what to do to live productively and actively until we reach that advanced age. We need to seriously plan how to intervene –hack– our brains to make them increasingly efficient and developed, capable of learning faster and retaining more information, of making more associations, of being more intuitive. We need more creative brains that generate more and better ideas; brains with more neural connections that can interact better with the artificial intelligences that will soon be an intrinsic part of them.
Just like we have become aware of the need to exercise for health and well-being in the past few generations, today we confirm that it is essential that we focus very assertively on exercising and stimulating our brain. We need to begin helping to expand its potential from when we are very young and continue until we reach an advanced age. How do we do this? In many, many ways. Lots of people already use apps or techniques that promise to develop the brain, focus, and concentration, among many other cognitive functions. Others use equipment that directly stimulates their brain waves.
Active reading continues to be crucial, as well continuously learning new and different things, no matter how old. The options are there; it is a matter of implementing them in a disciplined manner.
Another area that is vital for developing our brain actively and consciously and making it more efficient is the area of beliefs and paradigms. There are those who, for example, choose to passively resign themselves to physical or cognitive decadence, assuming it is inevitable, even by the time they are middle-aged. Those beliefs or expectations end up becoming self-fulfilling prophecies.
We should review all of the unhealthy paradigms, beliefs, or behavior that could be limiting us and even ageing us prematurely –at any age. We should cultivate the mental discipline to watch over our ideas and attitudes, which are the input with which our brain builds the realities in which we live.
In addition, if we are careful about the quality of information and stimuli we receive, we will guide the development of our brain and, therefore, help ourselves to enjoy the best quality of life in the short- and long-term. We must become increasingly lucid and up-to-date to enjoy all that is good and fascinating in the world and, hopefully, in our lives.