I’ve been reading about some brain research that illustrates how the brain changes as we mature. In childhood and adolescence, the brain is highly malleable, forming new connections and changing rapidly. That’s what enables children to learn so quickly, and it’s also partly what makes teenagers so impressionable, unstable and open to new ideas. They can literally change their core belief systems in response to new experiences.
The brains of adults have a more rigid structure, which means that adults are more emotionally stable and dependable, which they probably need to be in order to raise a family, but they also learn more slowly and can become set in their ways.
That’s interesting, because it reveals a biological reason why adults tend to have fixed views that don’t change even when the facts change. But it’s also a hope for optimism, because if you recognise this inbuilt reluctance to change, you can learn to compensate for it and open up your mind to new thoughts and opinions.
Adults aren’t completely resistant to change. We still manage to learn new skills, switch careers and acquire new languages if we work at it. If we work even harder we can even modify our most deeply ingrained political, philosophical and religious views. But only if we explicitly examine our core beliefs and consciously expose ourselves to diverse opinions and new facts.
In fact, I suspect that we if we try really hard we can learn to constantly reinvent ourselves throughout our lives. Doesn’t that sound exciting?