“Learning is about living, and as such is lifelong.”
– Bente Elkjaer
I’ve observed from my personal experiences that when I am not making a concerted effort to learn, that is, consciously grasping the lessons in my life’s experiences, either because I am too focused on my problems or because I am in a comfortable environment, I am highly prone to feeling stuck in a rut. So I seek learning experiences because they enrich my mind, help me grow and develop personally, broaden my perspectives, I learn to adapt and I discover things that bring me joy and personal satisfaction.
As I’ve come to know and understand, learning doesn’t stop in the classroom, neither does it end at seminars, training workshops, conferences or the library- it’s a mix of it all. And I think that we all learn every day, but intentional learning is a choice.
So today, to answer the question of- how do I become a lifelong learner?, in no order of importance, I’m sharing my 12 ways of infusing learning into my lifestyle. This list does not include going back to an educational institution to get a degree, certificate or diploma etc. which we all agree is crucial for honing our crafts/careers, or travelling, which broadens your mind and exposes you astoundingly to other people’s ways of doing things but I’m talking casual everyday activities that provide great learning opportunities. Here they are.
12 ways of becoming a happy lifelong learner
- Decide to open yourself to life. Experience is the best teacher and that experiences comes through the hands life deals us. What makes this even intriguing is that life happens when it wants to, meaning that whether you like it or not, your life experiences will teach you a thing or two. So for starters, don’t fight life- it will give you your experiences. Experiences that will mould and teach you. Decide to open yourself up to your life’s experiences because it is only through this way that you will learn.
- Become a more observant individual wherever you are. Being aware of yourself, the people around you and even your environment can give you hints for learning. How and why? Because being observant makes you notice the things that are unsaid, it heightens your sense of keenness and you pick up cues in the environment. These all lead to you making new discoveries and as we know, discovering new things is learning.
- Read. It doesn’t matter if what you read is fiction or nonfiction, children’s books, the atlas, the map, the bible (the book of Proverbs is a favourite), magazines, blogs, newspapers, newsletters etc. If it is information, read. I defer to Blinkist (a book app) to read summarised contents of books that are outside my areas of interest to spice things up.
- Become a child again. Have you noticed how courageous little children are? They are bold, free and unbound by nothing. For free, you learn a lot from them and then get to modify your behaviour for the better.
- Take free online courses. If we had to go back to school to learn every single topic we didn’t understand, we will be in formal schools our entire lifetime. This is why free online courses from open online institutions are valuable in gaining understanding. I personally benefit from EdX’s platform. Give it a try if you’ve never.
- Podcasts. Ah, what will life be without podcasts? I mean, it is one of the best ways to commute, learn and be inspired all at once. I shared some of my favourite podcasts with you here, and as long as you find that one or two or more podcasts that feed your mind, you will never stop enriching your mind.
- Do puzzles and brain teasers. If you do a quick search on google, it shows the numerous benefits of doing puzzles and brain games. Three key benefits for me personally include- my brain’s ability to grasp and retain information, improved concentration and agility of mind. Look, I honestly have no scientific proof to show you but these stuff work. Elevate and Wordbrain are my personal favourites.
- Take up a hobby. My definition of hobby is ‘an activity that brings out your hidden personality’. As the name of this blog suggests, I have my fair share of life’s experiences all sitting in my head, mind and soul. This is one of the main reasons I took to blogging as a hobby to share the thoughts in my head and my goodness, it’s been such an awesome experience. I feel pleasurably challenged while using this medium as a creative outlet, and I enjoy typing away on my computer. Take up a hobby you enjoy and you’ll see how much you’ll learn.
- Try new things. Attempt things you wouldn’t, speak to new people etc. The strong feeling of accomplishment that is derived from doing a new activity for the first time is indescribable- you feel nervous, excited, scared at the same time, all the emotions necessary for navigating unfamiliar terrains. You may love routine and be comfortable with what is familiar as some of us are, but attempting new things tickles the adventurous side of you- something that can improve your positive outlook on life.
- Explore your city. In other words, go to where the tourists go. Do you know that sometimes, tourists know our cities more than we do? I want to do more of this this year. I hope to learn more about where I live and expose myself to interesting things.
- Use your dictionary. Dictionaries provide ease and simplicity. I love reading my daughter’s colourful dictionaries as they provide unusual and interesting explanations for things and make things so simple. And the good thing is you don’t need a paperback dictionary, they come in apps now which are easily downloadable on your phone.
- Ask questions, be curious. If you ask questions, it shows you are learning. It simply means you are processing information, filtering what is clear and is not and seeking the clarity required. When you ask questions, you get to learn more than what you asked for. It indicates your interest in life, it shows you want to be wiser and it can help you improve your communication skills- 3 things crucial for learning.
Now, make me a promise. Try and do something that will make you learn intentionally today and help someone else do the same.
Thanks for reading and speak to you soon. xoxoxoxo