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01/31/2017 10:55 am ET Updated Apr 21, 2017

What Happens to Your Brain When You Learn Something New

Five excellent reasons to keep learning new skills, no matter how old you are.
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1. Novel experiences give you a rush of the reward chemical dopamine.

2. Breaking your routine can make time seem to pass more slowly. Repetition puts us on autopilot, and when we’re paying less attention, the hours—and years—seem to fly by.

3. Learning something new causes the brain to build connections between neurons, replacing some of those we lose over time.

4. You actually can be bored to death: Researchers at University College London followed roughly 7,500 civil servants for more than 20 years and found that those who reported high levels of boredom early on were more than twice as likely to die of heart disease.

5. You don’t have to freak out about failure: Cultivating a growth mind-set (”I’ll get better!”), as opposed to a fixed mind-set (”I’m hopeless!”), fosters perseverance and resilience, according to Carol Dweck, PhD, Stanford University professor of psychology and author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. And here’s the beauty of getting older: Who cares if someone sees you screw up?

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