The large majority of childhood is spent learning. As we approach adulthood, we take our foundation and start to hone in on learning specific skills and seeking out degrees and certifications. For those fortunate enough to quickly land on their career path there is then a period of learning how to master their craft. After years and years of learning and growth from childhood to an adult engaged in a career, the learning tends to stop. We don’t need another degree, we don’t need that extra certification, we already know how to do the job that provides for us. If we aren’t careful, we can become stagnant and be susceptible to mental decline and a life of monotonous drudgery.
Our brains crave stimulation, and no I don’t mean the stimulation we get watching the entirety of The Office for the fourth time. As humans we have an incredible capability for learning and growth. We are capable of storing far more information than any of us will ever take in through a lifetime. There is no reason to ever stop pursuing knowledge and improving ourselves. We learn to not only improve ourselves, but to help ourselves better understand the world and people around us.
British Author Doris Lessing once said, “That is what learning is. You suddenly understand something you have understood your whole life, but in a new way.” While this quote comes across as a bit philosophical, it really is a simple summation of how our perspective changes as we learn. Perhaps you have read a captivating and well-written novel and later found yourself thinking in the narrator’s style of speech, seeing the events around you through the eyes of the protagonist, or just speaking with a different style. We absorb, we reflect, and we shift our perspectives.
Continual learning helps keep us young and engaged. It is rewarding in itself, but there are always useful things to add into your life’s toolbelt. Learning a new language might help you better interact with your neighbors, or perhaps allow you to make that backpacking trip through the Andes more attainable. Memorizing the capital cities of each country might help you lock down that first prize at the pub’s trivia night, or maybe someday you’ll be shaking Ken Jennings hand after taking down your first episode of Jeopardy.
The world around us is changing at an alarming pace, and continuing to learn and shape ourselves ensures that we won’t be left behind. There are new industries and technologies being developed almost daily, and the jobs and careers of today may well be replaced by very different looking ones. Continual learning creates a more well-rounded you. It creates the type of person that can see and understand the world around them, and someone who can adapt to an ever changing landscape.
So get out there and read. Take daily quizzes and do puzzles. Take a pottery or art class. Watch some educational human interest YouTube videos. Seek out new challenges, pursue personal growth, avoid the stagnant monotony and never grow old.
“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.” - Henry Ford
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