5Your Brain Will Start Getting Pleasure from Boring Shit
Aside from occasional exceptions, it's rare to see senior citizens ramping things on a dirt bike. They, for the most part, don't drive fast cars, or play pranks, or play violent video games, or do, well, anything exciting. This is one of the greatest dreads that teenagers have about growing older -- life as a grownup seems so incredibly boring and lame. Each of us, at some point, has promised that this will never happen to us.
No taxes, free meals and 50 percent fewer beatings: prison, better than Mom's basement.
But Over Time ...
The good news is, it's not that bad. It turns out that this gradual switch over to preferring to redecorate the garage over electronic slaughter via Xbox actually has its roots in developing brain chemistry. In adolescence, the brain is less active in the motivation and planning areas, but highly active in the reward-based areas, and so you are drawn to activities with high-satisfaction payoffs but minimal effort expended to achieve them. In other words, you want big thrills, and you want them right now.
I'm planting motherfucking azaleas!
Something like being pushed screaming down a busy street in a shopping cart requires no forethought (beyond how many YouTube views you hope to achieve), but your friends yelling "Dude!" and praising your "bravery" makes your brain pump out sweet sweet reward chemicals like dopamine. Fast-paced video games play to the same instant-reward, zero-investment part of the brain.
But later in life, the thrill-seeking part of your brain starts to settle down and you start getting more satisfaction from modest highs, like having a nice flower garden, and you're more willing to put in the effort to achieve these goals in the long term. Spending a whole day in front of a video game starts to feel like a wasted day.
Modern Florafare: The Gardening.
But that's not the only guilty pleasure you'll lose your taste for. You'll also find that ...
4It Will Become Physically Impossible to Sleep In
When you are young, you think nothing of sleeping until midday, and your parents chide you for being a lazy, shiftless layabout. Your parents also may chide (if they dare) your grandparents for being seemingly unable to stop themselves from leaping out of bed at the ungodly hour of 5 a.m. and tidying the house.
"I sleep two hours a night so that Death will pay less attention to me."
The oversleeping teenager and crack-of-dawn-awakening retiree are two images that seem indelibly inked into the canvas of life. In both cases, we tie a moral judgment to it -- teens are too lazy, old people are too nervous and fussy.
But Over Time ...
Sleep is dictated by a chemical in your brain called melatonin. Scientists have tested how melatonin is produced by teenagers over the course of a day, and found that teenagers' bodies work on a kind of "permanent state of jet lag," wherein they are most alert in the afternoon and evening, but it takes much longer to rouse them in the morning. Yep, Mom, it's not because the boys are shiftless and lazy and rebellious -- their own body clocks are working against them.
It's 2 a.m. -- do you know what your teenager is eating?
We expect things to be haywire as a teenager, but the brain chemistry keeps changing well into adulthood, meaning the older you get, the harder it actually is to stay in bed, even if you try. So, one day, you too will feel an overwhelming urge to vacuum at sunrise on a Saturday and be in bed by 8. It's not because you suddenly learned responsibility -- it's because your body set the clock back.
Until your inner child snaps and tries to kill you.