I took a course in the biochemistry of aging this semester, and I’ve read quite a few books about aging.
I ended up expressing quite a few unpopular opinions in the end. Especially after recently visiting the aging conference in Denmark, where people shared in a very dense fashion what they found just recently in 2020-2021.

I will list my unpopular opinions here in the blog.

1) I have read tons of research about how walking around for 1-2 minutes every 30 minutes instead of sitting 3 hours straight reduces the risk of dementia in later years by 15%. Just walking around, isn’t it amazing? You don’t need to find 1-2 hours to exercise. During the class discussion, with almost 30 people, everybody said they don’t have time to exercise as they are busy. My first thought was that I have two civil jobs, have fun on the side, and try to travel anytime I can, and I still have full-time university classes, just like they do.
I said, “every one of us can step back right now, and make five squats, or jump around listening to music, and it will take you way apart from you doing 0 exercises for hours and days and maybe even weeks”. There was that silence, and then some people said, “you are probably right,” and it continued with people saying, “I don’t have time for it.” I then shared my experience when I used to get dressed for running in winter, cold as fuck, and I went running for just one block, 5 minutes. And it felt so fresh, and it made me feel so different as opposed to just sitting in the apartment all day. Fresh, rejuvenated, ready for new adventures. I also shared how hard it was to struggle with the idea of perfectionism: if I run, I have to run for at least 40 minutes for fat burn. But how about that feeling of doing something? How about feeling so happy just running around the block? How about feeling happy just doing that?
Some people said it’s an excellent point, but in 5 minutes, everybody went back to saying there’s no time to exercise. (All of us have enough time to scroll through social media or the internet in general pointlessly, haven’t we?)

2) The next thing we discussed was intellectual training and “declining with age.”
We are used to thinking that cognitive decline comes with age. We forget more words at 60 as opposed to 30.
But again, when we are 30 and say that a spoon is a fork, or if we forget the right word to name something, we are likely to be told we are wrong. When we are 60, we let that pass, as it’s the “age” thing.
When we make an effort to express ourselves as transparent as we can, and when there are people that would point that out, it’s a skill, and as the age comes, somehow people let you go with saying “fork” instead of “spoon.” What is the aging cognitive decline then? Allowing the precise expression of words wither and let people lose that skill or some inevitable brain abilities drop?

Again, I made my point that if you don’t make an effort to express yourself clearly, and if you forget a word, you make an effort to remember it at 60 and treat it as a problem, you develop a skill to call things what they are not, and expressing yourself very blur.

3) The board games research stroke me as essential. I’ve learned that people who play board games have approximately 15% less chance of experiencing dementia at a later age. Kind of simple, develop your brain at earlier times, and you have a better cognition later. I got that feedback, expected of course that there’s no time for that.
I play chess pretty much every day, I’m not good, and I made a point that one can play one game a day or even three times a week, takes 5 minutes, and that is good enough for a day. I got a couple of people that said I was right. Then it shifted back to people saying they don’t have enough time. I took my time to google the most prominent chess players in the last few decades, and I only found Bobby Fisher, that was struggling with some mental issues, and apparently, he was struggling with it before he started serious chess.
Seriously, again, we don’t have time to play one game a couple of times a week? Bullshit.

4) Language learning. It seems that all humankind carries the idea of perfecting the language and starting to speak it fluently. Otherwise, it doesn’t make sense. It means committing to it for a few years of persistent work.
I shared my point on just learning 2-3 words a day, or one kanji a day, and being happy that the brain makes an effort to learn it.
I know I only tried to learn about eight languages in which I can say a limited amount of phrases, but I can only fluently speak 2. We forget quickly, but we also remember easily as we pick up.

Long story short, does the perfectionism as in “doing it all” is in the way of just exercising the brain and the body and the psyche? In my opinion, perfectionism is detrimental to any passion or trying to pick up a new skill, practice. We can learn one kanji, run for 5 minutes, squat five times, read for 5 minutes and then stop. That is how we find what can be a real passion. We are our personalities, we have moods, and we are entitled to try and choose for as long as we want. When we find what we are really passionate about, we do all the way to creating this new skill.

The passion or motivation to do something comes from tiny steps, not the huge ones. Fuck the “you have to run for at least an hour,” fuck the “I need to snowshoe every Sunday,” fuck the “I have to make an ideal pottery item,” fuck the “if I start to learn the language I have to speak it fluently.” Also, fuck people who ask you, “where are you going with that, what’s the point.” You will find out who you are, what you like, and you are the rare kind that explores themselves. Never late. Please do it for 5 minutes, see how you feel, move on, come back. Then that persistent and hourly effort will show up, no doubt.