Aging Creatively

Psychologists who study creativity say that artists and writers often can produce more new ideas in their sixties or seventies than in their twenties. One interesting variable is that the later you take up any creative pursuit, the more likely you are to pursue it into old age.

Creative experience may enhance the structure of the brain itself. Chinese studies of old people in Shanghai indicate that less educated people have higher rates of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease; the implication is that educated people, having been trained to use their minds, stimulate healthy brain activity.

PET scans show increased blood flow to the brain during periods of creative thought; a distinctive EEG of coherent rhythms across all bands of brainwave activity is associated with the “Aha!” or “Eureka!” experience that characterizes art and creativity in general.

Also, it’s a myth to think that it harms the brain to get too wrapped up in mental work. As long as it is enjoyable, concentrated mental activity gives rise to alpha-wave patterns typical of “restful alertness,” the relaxed but aware state also found in meditation.

Certain desirable neurotransmitters such as serotonin also increase during pleasurable creative activities. The neurological picture is still debatable, but the real-life results – more years of fulfilling existence — are not.

It would appear, then, that to want as much life, creativity, and wisdom as possible is very desirable. If your expectations in these areas are low, you are not likely to exceed them, while setting very high standards makes every decade worth looking forward to.

Beyond any body of evidence about aging and how to prevent it, the single most important factor is that you make something creative from your existence.

Adapted from Ageless Body, Timeless Mind, by Deepak Chopra (Three Rivers Press, 1998).

Love This? Never Miss Another Story.

111 comments

Jo S.
Jo S.4 months ago

Thank you Deepak.

Jo S.
Jo S.4 months ago

Thank you Deepak.

Joe R.
Joe R.3 years ago

Thanks Deepak.

Lidia E Feliciano

I have to completey disagree with the statement that you are more creative in you're much later years than you're 20s.There are millions of extremely creative people in the world that have already begun to show the world their talents.I know many online that are very creative and making money from their art.Art doesn't always pertain to actual paintings,but can pertain to clothing,shoes,hair etc.

Jane H.
Jane H.5 years ago

I always knew being creative was good for the soul but I'm glad to see that it is good for the brain. I need all the help I can get. Alzheimer's has shown up on both sides of my family tree. Thank you for the article. peace

Lynette Burks
Lynette Burks5 years ago

thank you

Cindy B.
Cindy Black5 years ago

Yeah, and the older you are, the more "license for eccentricity" you've got... anyway, good for you, Emmajade (I can totally relate), and thank you, Dr. Chopra. Everly little bit of motivation helps.

NoEmails H.
beba h.5 years ago

Creatiion and creativity is the essence of life---

Mark H.
Mark H.5 years ago

I'm counting on it. My granpa was an inventoor and artist til his death at 100.

Sanja T.
Sanja T.5 years ago

thanks...