Daniel Levitin comes back to Dylan Thomas again and again in his book The Changing Mind, fighting against going, “gently into that good night”. However, he argues that our future depends on our past as well as our future actions.
The book is structured in three parts. The first part focuses on the brain’s development from our earliest days, covering individual differences and personality, memory, perception, intelligence, emotions, social factors, and pain. The second part focuses on our behaviours, including diet, exercise, and sleep. The third part summarises the lessons from the first two parts with advice for living smarter, longer, and better.
There are some surprising statistics in the book and lots of good advice too. I was shocked that loneliness is so strongly associated with early death and is worse for your health than smoking 15 cigarettes a day. And I was happy to read that even a moderate amount of exercise (i.e., just going for a walk, especially in nature) has a large positive effect on our lives. It improves not just our longevity, but also the quality of our lives, and that is the perfect combination. A great read for anyone who is ageing (which I think includes most of us).