I am in love with lifelong learning. It was not always that way, however.To be perfectly honest, I used to think that the only way to learn was in school. And I was not always a big fan of “conventional learning”, unless it was a course that really interested me.It was not until I expanded my own definition of learning that the love affair began. The retreats, the books, the conferences, and even my own missteps. All a means for learning.Now I cannot learn enough or get my hands on enough information. Lifelong learning is like a potato chip to me; I want more. As a matter of fact, as of the writing of this article, I have about 12 different books going at the same time.Why?Simple. It sparks my curiosity and the curiosity sparks my quest to be a lifelong learner.
“Curiosity is one of the permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous intellect.” ― Samuel Johnson
The more I engage and employ lifelong learning, the more I experience some really cool things. Not only lifelong learning improved my brain functions (like my memory), but it has supported my success and growth as a business owner and made me a more effective coach.Not to mention, as an introvert, it gives me a lot of material to work with in social settings, which is a great side benefit.The bottom line: lifelong learning has been truly instrumental in adding new tools and knowledge to my metaphorical toolbox.
Major benefits of lifelong learning
If you think about it, the brain, while mostly grey matter has muscle. Like any muscle or skill, the less you use it the more chance for it to atrophy. But keeping your brain strong is not the only benefit.In the article Benefits of Lifelong Learning, Marjaan Laal states that lifelong learning sharpens the mind, increases confidence, enhances interpersonal skills, expands career opportunities and impacts the ability to effectively communicate.((MarjanLaal: Benefits of Lifelong Learning))How is that so?When we learn, we expand our knowledge base obviously but it goes much farther than that. Learning can help us to step out of a pattern or routine. The more we do that, the more confidence we create.It moves us past that point of complacency. It in turn enhances and improves the skills we already have by helping us to not only strengthen them, but also add to them.It is also beneficial to our health. While it may not cure diseases like Alzheimer’s, for example, it has been reported that learning can slow the progression of diseases that impact the brain.John Coleman stated in his article Lifelong Learning is Good for Your Health, Your Wallet and Your Social Life that even reading for a short period everyday can reduce stress levels.((Harvard Business Review: Lifelong Learning Is Good for Your Health, Your Wallet, and Your Social Life)) With all the demands we face on a daily basis, who does not want a little stress relief?If you are ready to reap the many benefits of lifelong learning be sure to read on.
How to train your brain to crave learning
There is no end to education. It is not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning. – Jiddu Krishnamurti
The more we do something and notice the benefits of doing that something, the more apt we are to do it again and again. Enter a habit. Training our brains to crave learning is no different.Here are some simple ways to begin to train your brain to crave lifelong learning:
1. Create an objective for your learning.
That may sound funny, but it truly does help to have an objective in mind.For example, maybe your objective is to reduce your stress levels or find different ways to relax.Having an objective not only makes the learning beneficial but gives it a purpose.
2. Start small.
If lifelong learning has not been your “thing”, trying to eat this learning elephant in one bite makes it more difficult to stick with. It helps to break down the learning into bite sized pieces.For example, instead of trying to read a certain number of pages in a book every day, why not start with 15 minutes, two or three times a week?After you have cemented that small habit into place, you can then add to it.
3. Make it fun.
If learning is a chore or becomes a chore, the act of doing it obviously decreases. Have some fun with your learning.For example, for every new learning opportunity you take, give yourself some “props”. Give yourself a gold star. Make learning a game.Whatever is going to make learning fun for you, make sure to engage the fun!
Ideas to begin lifelong learning
If you don’t know how to begin lifelong learning, here’re some ideas for you:
1. Stick your nose in a book.
The most obvious way to learn something new is to read often and read a variety of books. Benefits of reading are many. Here you can find great books to read:
- The 25 Best Self Improvement Books
- 35 Books on Productivity and Organizational Skills for an Effective Life
- 27 Must Read Books Every Novel Lover Should Read at Least Once
2. Engage in deeper thoughts and conversations.
Nothing shakes up the routine of the day-to-day surface level stuff than a deep conversation or deep thinking.If you find that you do not have folks in your world that you can have those deeper conversations with, not to worry. Facebook , LinkedIn , and MeetUp are loaded with all sorts of groups engaging in some pretty cool conversations around topics of interest.
3. Check out some cool podcasts and videos.
In your hot, little hand you hold a magical tool for learning. If you have not downloaded the YouTube or the TED app, give them a whirl. Some nice TED talks and podcast recommendations for you:
- 100 TED Talks Lessons In 5 Minutes
- 20 Most Inspiring TED Talks of All Time That You Should Not Miss
- 11 Podcasts To Inspire Yourself
4. Enroll in some extra curricular classes.
Community colleges offer adult learning programs and classes for cheap.If attending classes in a brick’s and mortar school is not your thing, no worries. Online courses are always available via sites like Udemy and many more:25 Killer Sites For Free Online Education
5. Leverage your missteps and mistakes.
Missteps and mistakes are great learning tools. Rather than judge yourself or use your missteps and mistakes as a 2×4 to beat yourself up with, take them as an opportunity to learn.One thing that I find helpful is to take my missteps and mistakes and journal about them. To get the learning rolling I begin with a question like, “What am I meant to learn from this?” and then I let me pen just go. No overthinking or editing, just top of the mind writing.If these ideas do not do it for you or you want more, be sure to check out Scott Young’s article right here on Lifehack:15 Steps to Cultivate Lifelong Learning
The keys to benefiting from lifelong learning are to:
- Set your objective for learning. When there is a purpose behind the learning, the learning becomes more compelling.
- Start small, in bite-sized pieces.
- Make it fun. Choosing the topics that most interest you and the way in which you want to learn that best suits you.
Following these simple steps and you will have your brain craving lifelong learning in no time!
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