While it’s natural—not to mention convenient—to blame your genes for any shortcomings, you’re out of luck, say the experts. Genetics can’t account for your clumsiness or inability to remember your spouse’s birthday.
“I’m not a math person”
While your DNA can play a measurable role in how you learn, genetics are much more about general learning ability than your knack for mastering particular subjects, reports the Los Angeles Times. According to the Atlantic, basic math ability depends on “hard work, preparation, and self-confidence,” not winning the genetic lottery.
“I’m just bad with names”
You’re not born with the inability to remember—so don’t try blaming your genes for forgetting your wedding anniversary, either! Time and time again, scientists show that our brainpower is not fixed in biology. WebMD reports that although genetics play a part, the main memory gene accounts for “relatively minor differences in brain function.” Factors we can control include diet, sleep, stress management, physical exercise, and cognitive exercises like learning new skills. According to Psychology Today, there are several effective ways to train your working memory—the kind that retains phone numbers and names—and it’s actually fun. Check out 13 memory-boosting tips from brain scientists.
“I don’t have a creative bone in my body!”
No, creative thinking cannot simply be explained away by genetics: Developing creativity has much more to do with motivation and personal interest. Edward Glassman, PhD, a geneticist and Professor Emeritus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, says it is a “major myth” that creativity is largely inherited. “Most people with reasonable mental ability can become more creative” by developing creative thinking skills. These include the ability to keep an open mind, generate ideas, and use a variety of problem-solving tactics. We’ll help you get started: here are 10 ways to boost creative thinking.