Q. Please explain the pros and cons of adapting.

A. That’s a tall order! Here is the short answer. Adapting refers to the development and use of functions that fall outside one’s innate giftedness or brain’s energy advantage. Short-term adapting is useful and desirable; excessive or prolong adapting is not. Current studies suggest that a person is likely to be healthiest, happiest, and most successful when a majority (I say at least 51%) of life’s activities match what that person’s brain does easily.

A lecturer, when explaining to an audience the cost of prolonged adapting, picked up a glass filled with water and asked, “For how long could you hold this glass of water?” Participants called out a variety of estimates.

The lecturer replied, “If you hold it for a minute or two, that’s doable. If you hold it for an hour you will likely become aware that your arm is beginning to ache. If you hold the glass of water for an entire day without setting it down for a break, you may have to call an ambulance to take you to an Emergency Department.”

That’s the way it is with prolonged adapting. Spending a relatively short amount of time doing a task that is energy intensive for your brain is doable. After an hour or so you may notice that your brain is tired (and even more so as you get older and have less brain energy). After spending an entire day performing activities that require your brain to work much harder, you may be so exhausted that you have no energy for activities that are enjoyable and easy for your brain to do in terms of energy expenditures. Eventually, your brain may simply not be able to carry on and will try to get your attention through symptoms of irritability, memory and/or learning impairment, and depression (refer to PASS below).

To get through life people need to do some tasks that are more energy intensive for their brains. When doing so they need frequent breaks (e.g., metaphoricallyput the glass down) to do something else that is easier for the brain. Otherwise the burden may become impossible for the brain to handle. Life is short. Live it so both you and your brain enjoy it!

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