Improve Your Life #18: Learn Something New

Tuesday 07th, May 2013 / 18:27Written by
Improve Your Life #18: Learn Something New

The school system managed to make the learning something we tried to avoid. For many of us the system didn’t fully succeed but there’s no huge excitement associated with learning. I have noticed that as I get older and the memories of school system are less vivid in my mind I tend to enjoy learning more and more.

I started just by reading interesting books for fun and entertainment. For me it was astronomy and cosmology, marketing, psychology and other social sciences. The more I read the more I started to see how this stuff makes my world larger.

You don’t have to read practical stuff. Reading about quantum theory is not going to give you insights how to get a promotion at work. But it will fill you with the sense of wonder and build the neural connections in your brain. More connections in the brain and sense of wonder may lead to better employment opportunities.

Related post: The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything by Josh Kaufman [TED VIDEO]

The form of learning you choose is totally up to you. There are three main sources of learning:

Thomas-Henry-Huxley-quotes

Try to learn something about everything and everything about something. ~~Thomas Huxley

People

You can learn things from people around you. What your friends are good at? Is there something your co-worker does exceptionally well? Ask them to share their experience with you. Learn something from your kid. The older they get the more surprised you will be about the things they know. Your parent and grandparents can teach you how stuff was done when there was no internet. This is one side of learning from people.

The other thing that people can teach you is emotional. How do they feel about things, ideas, events, and other people. Why does your friend love winter and snowboarding, but that other guy can only think of warm places and laying on the beach. Why some people love comedy and others horror. This kind of learning will expand your emotional horizon and help you better understand people you meet along the way.

Learn from experiences

If something happens to you use it as opportunity to learn. Usually we tend to learn more from negative experience as we are too busy celebrating in positive cases. Decide to learn from every experience you have and you can say you “win some or learn some”.

Media

Read a book, take a course online or off, watch a documentary, get information from websites and blogs. With the advent of the internet almost all the information in the world is accessible to everyone with a connected device. You can get ebooks and audiobooks from Amazon and other sources for nothing. Get audiobooks and turn your transit times to university on the go. Just the other day I decided that it’s time to read the foundation of Western literature Iliad by Homer (not the yellow one). The price for the Kindle edition? $ZERO. Delivery time? Instant.

Try stuff in real life

If you learn something from a book or a person then try to apply it hands-on. See if it works, how can you improve it, do you like it, Keep at the things you like and toss the others replacing them with something new.

But if you are trying something don’t give up too easily. I have seen a lot of people who try something once and quit saying it’s not something for them. The “not for me” reaction is due to the fact that they haven’t mastered the skill yet. When I learned to snowboard I was more on the ground than on the board. It took a lot of time to get halfway decent at snowboarding but it wa worth it.

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Try everything that seems interesting and fun. Keep at it long enough to really understand of this is something for you. Try new things all the time. Try things that are weird and unexpected. Try things that you don’t have a talent for. But above all else try to keep it fun!

A few final notes. If you learn something, teach others. This will make your new found knowledge stick better. Set a time limit. Depending on your habits surfing Wikipedia may take you hours upon hours. Don’t forget to sleep and socialize.

Set goals. Your first goal is to have fun. After that you may consider how deep you want to go into a certain topic. You don’t have to become the master of Greek literature. Just have fun and try to understand how what you just read has influenced the history over the past 28 hundred years. Set yourself a goal of learning something new every day or week.

Now go and learn something new.

learn-something-every-day

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Image: NGC 224 / Great Nebula in Andromeda / M 31 by Torben Hansen
Image: Thomas Henry Huxley by Ernest Edwards (1837—1903)

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