Life does throw us curve balls and there is more and more evidence that you can prepare your brain for some of these mishaps along the way by building up a bit of reserve.
Building cognitive reserve can be very rewarding process. Find a purposeful project and contribute to the world while you fill your well of brain processing power!
I discovered an outlet for my purposeful projects and that is being a Citizen Scientist – a non-scientist, non-specialists who collects data and adds to the body of scientific knowledge. There are a ton of projects out there — some easier to participate in than others. I love the philosophy of one project the Marine Animal Identification Network — a project tracking seals and reporting information about migration — because it sums it all up:
“In many cases, we learn through the imprecise science of serendipity whereby a matrix of possibilities results in a report: the right person in the right place at the right time knowing the right person to contact.” How wonderful is it that we all, just by chance, can be that person at the right place at the right time and can contribute to science?
I was surprised at how easily I found projects that require very little investment of time and technology. All you really need is a smart phone or a computer and a few extra minutes to participate in some of these projects! Do a search for citizen science projects in a geographic are or that have to do with an interest. Love the outdoors? Check out the projects from the National Wildlife Federation’s listing of projects from backyard birders to butterfly counting to star gazing. All of these projects ask you to do is observe, record, and report.
Are you near the Mississippi River and interested in birds? Work with the Audubon Society’s Rivers Project Office of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology to monitor and track birds in the bottomland forests on the Mississippi River. Observe, record, report, contribute!
How about working with NASA from your own backyard? NASA has several ongoing citizen science projects going on now and more to come!
There are so many things you can do right now that take so little and give back so much!