More than 1,000 retired workers, all aged 75 or above, stood in line. They were about to sit down to a barrage of tests judging their memory and thinking skills. The tests were grueling, and it was only the beginning. For eight years, these retirees would line up every 18 months for the same battery of tests and evaluations, almost as if they were migratory birds following their instincts.
But they weren’t compelled to subject themselves to the draining tasks and judgments. No, they volunteered—and for good reason.
The brains of these older men and women held the answer to a question neuroscience researchers believed they could unlock: Does a life of stressful and demanding work actually make you mentally healthy?
After eight years of tireless study, sifting through mountains of data, and controlling for every possible variable, they had their answer:
Your life of constant stressors that require fast thinking, prioritizing, and decision making—the things you complain leave you exhausted every day after work—are actually making your brain stronger and preparing it for top performance for years to come.
If you ever worry about the stress and constant juggling of priorities in your life… that’s probably good. You don’t want it to become unhealthy. But you don’t want to eliminate it, either. Your difficult work—the things you struggle with but are proud to accomplish—are actually keeping you healthy for a lifetime. Continue Reading →