In a world of constant change and chaos, what will we need to succeed going forward?

You’ve heard all of the buzzwords before. We’ve been talking about them on this blog for years, and you can boil them down to this: We need a mind that’s focused on innovation, transformation, anticipation. We need a mind that’s less concerned about reacting to what’s happening now and is more concerned about anticipating what’s going to happen tomorrow. We need a proactive mind, not a reactive one.

Based on what I heard on NPR the other day, though, I think you can boil it down even further:

We need a mind. Period.

Fresh Air” host Terry Gross interviewed neuroscientist David Linden, author of the fascinating book Touch: The Science of Hand, Heart, and Mind. The book examines the intersection between our sense of touch and our emotional responses, but I was more interested in what Linden had to say about brain health. At one point, Gross asked Linden what he does to strengthen his brain. Here’s what Linden had to say:

“What I do to strengthen and protect my brain is physical exercise. The single best thing you can do for your cognitive function, particularly when you’re in middle age like me, is to get out of your chair and move your body around. It is a much, much bigger effect than any of these brain-training games or puzzles or things that people want to sell you.

“It turns out that when you exercise, you are dilating the blood vessels in your brain. You are changing the metabolic capacity of your brain. You’re causing your brain to secrete chemicals called trophic factors that appear to keep neurons healthy and changeable. … It reduces anxiety; it prevents depression; it improves cognitive function. If there is a single thing to do for your brain health, it is to do 30 minutes of aerobic exercise a day.”

So there it is. If you want to create, innovate, anticipate, transform, succeed, then you need to exercise. Move around. Get that blood flowing. It stands to reason that if your brain is healthy, your ability to innovate grows.

Dealing with constant change and chaos requires more than a new mindset.

It requires a healthy mind.

Listen to Linden’s “Fresh Air” interview in its entirety.

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