Use It, or Lose It!

by Larry Landgraf
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Do you remember your mama telling you to eat your vegetables so you’ll grow up big and strong? We all know the benefits of a healthy body, but do you think about growing a healthy mind? The brain is the core of your computer system if you will allow me that. You have the capability to amass an infinite amount of information over your lifetime. The more you know, the better you will be able to do almost anything you desire. And for you to efficiently process your knowledge, you must continually exercise your mind.

Muscles grow stronger the more you work them. Everyone knows that. Eat properly, work hard, and your body will grow fit in relation to the amount of effort you put into it. The same is true with your brain. There are an infinite number of activities to grow your mind. Your job and daily life challenges will likely involve numerous tasks at problem-solving. This exercises your mind and forces your brain to find solutions.

You’ve had a hard day at work and when you get home, what do you do? Plop down in front of the television or anything else which involves minimal physical or mental activity? Sure, the body and mind need to relax, but hours and hours of downtime isn’t good for the body or the brain. If you’re going to be idle, at least do something that taxes the mind. Word games, working on that novel you always wanted to write, or as in my case, play online poker. I am strong in math and the no-limit hold’em I play constantly works the odds in my head and keeps my computer core and game sharp.

Reading will provide you with most of your knowledge, but you will learn a significant amount by doing things. Undertaking tasks also exercises your muscles in the process. Much of what you learn is through trial and error. You will fail often so be prepared for this. Failure should never get you down. It simply means you’re one step closer to success and more knowledge. If you are constantly doing, you will be learning, and the more you learn the smarter you’ll be. The smarter you are, the more able you’ll be to deal with what life throws at you. Remember, from the day you are born, life is out to kill you. Your survival depends upon what you learn in order to get ahead in the world and to protect yourself so you’ll live long enough to get there.

So, what activities should you be doing every day to improve your chances of leading a great life? That is the ultimate goal, isn’t it? You want to be healthy. You want to be smart. You want to be happy. If you are fit and have the knowledge to do the things safely that you want to do, you’ll likely live a long and productive life and be happy that you’ve done everything that you wanted. But you have to work at it. Nothing will be handed to you. Use your body and your mind, or you’ll lose it. You’ll have no regrets when you leave this world. Shouldn’t that be your goal?

Reading is a daily must, but there is so much more to do. You might have an interest in camping, hunting, auto mechanics, cooking, or crocheting. Many of your activities will revolve around your job, but don’t stop there. It doesn’t matter where your interests lie, simply do whatever you choose, but also expand your horizons by doing things outside of your comfort zone. Put pressure on yourself to always do more. Muscles grow stronger when they are strained a bit. The mind will also strengthen when you exert yourself.

I’m a seventy-year-old male. I consider myself strong for my age, but also super smart as well. My knowledge may not be the same as someone else who is extremely smart, but I’ve packed my brain with useful information for the life I chose to lead. I feel like I’ve done all I could have possibly have done to strengthen my body and have worked my central computer system to the max. What I know spans many classifications from a good education in math, chemistry, and biology, but also from a couple of decades in the commercial fishing industry, another two decades in the field of construction, and now as an accomplished award-winning multi-genre author.

As much as I’ve learned out in the real world, I feel like what I’ve learned living in the swamp country on the Guadalupe River along the Texas Gulf Coast just living life in general and with nature is just as important. I’ve built my own home with my two hands from the ground up. I am a survivor and I’m strong and healthy, not just from the more natural foods I grow and eat, but the hard work in maintaining a large property infested with alligators, snakes, and an ungodly number of biting, stinging, and venomous insects and nasty critters. An important lesson I’ve learned is to watch where I walk.

Life is tough in my swamp, but I wouldn’t live anywhere else. How do you feel about where you live? If you don’t like it, you always have the freedom to move elsewhere. It is important to be strong and healthy, but the most important thing is to be happy with where you’re at and what you do. I will die one day and will have no regrets. There is not a single thing I’d change about my life. I’ve had a hard life, but it has been very rewarding. I’ve always pushed myself both mentally and physically. I am stronger for it.

You too can reap the rewards life has to offer. Maybe you’ll choose to live in the city or suburbs and that is fine if that’s what makes you happy. I urge you to learn about your environment. Learn what the dangers are around you and how to protect yourself from harm. Learn to procure everything you need to live a comfortable and fulfilling life. People are different, so it is necessary for you to find your own place in this world. You have to decide for yourself. I can’t do this for you. That is not my place. It is up to you to keep taking that next step toward building your life into what you will one day call your paradise just as I have built mine.

An important thing in life is to be confident. Knowledge will give you that confidence. Know that you can do anything that you put your mind to. A wealth of knowledge always propels you forward. Learn to do many things and you will take the next step with the confidence that you can succeed.

You get only one chance at life. Your job is to make the most of yours. Ask yourself: What do I want out of life? If you choose wisely and put all your effort in that direction, you’ll have a great future wherever you live or whatever you do. The life I’ve chosen for myself is not for everyone. The life you choose will not be likely suited for me either. Everyone has to make their own choices.

I’ve changed careers twice in my life. The reasons I’ve taken different paths have been painful, but necessary. I made a choice and moved forward without fear. Change is inevitable. That is a fact of life. Never fear the future. Embrace it and move forward with confidence. You will learn new things and you’ll be smarter for it.

Often, life will make decisions for you. I know my life has taken many turns and this is normal. You will make spur of the moment decisions and your life will be forever altered. Some of these detours will be beneficial, but if you make wrong choices you may take a course which is not desirable. If you find yourself down a dangerous path, you still have it within yourself to alter your course. Knowledge will help you make better decisions if you stray, and the knowledge you’ve collected will help you get back on track.

So, what have we learned? I think I’ve shown that the key to a great life is determined by knowledge and the ability to make better choices with confidence through education. Your mind has the capacity to learn everything that you need, so nourish your brain with a constant supply of useful information. Read, work hard, and learn from your mistakes. The world is your apple. Go out and make a great life for yourself. Walk with confidence and with the strength you have within you to make your life the best that it can be. Be strong and above all, be happy.


Larry Landgraf
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