Improve Your Life #18: Learn Every Day
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 the school system are less vivid, I tend to enjoy learning more and more.
You can start just by reading interesting books for fun and entertainment. For me, it was:
- astronomy and cosmology,
- productivity and decision making,
- psychology and other social sciences.
The more you read, the more you start to see how new knowledge makes your world larger. How seemingly unrelated topics connect.
You don’t have to read practical stuff. Reading about quantum theory is not going to give you insights on 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 the sense of wonder may lead to better employment opportunities.
The form of learning you choose is totally up to you. There are three main sources of learning:
Try to learn something about everything and everything about something. ~~Thomas Huxley
1. Learn from people around you
You can learn facts and skills from the 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 parents and grandparents can teach you how things were done when there was no internet. The facts and knowledge are 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 the people you meet along the way.
2. Learn from experience
If something happens to you, use it as an 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.”
3. Use learning resources
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 the 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.
You can start right here: how to increase your willpower and improve your life.
Try new things every day
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 because 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 was worth it.
Try everything that seems interesting and fun. Keep at it long enough to understand if 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!
How to remember what you learn
Recall. Right after you finish the material you are learning, stop and think what you learned. Look away and recall what you read or watched for 30 seconds or a minute. Extra points for creating flashcards with a tool like Anki.
Spaced repetition. Practice strengthening the neural connections. Knowledge in the brain is like a muscle. Repeat the ting s that you want to keep. Repeat the material in 3 or 4 days. Re-read, recall, and use the Feynman technique.
- Read something you want to understand and remember
- Write an explanation as if you were teaching it to someone else who didn’t understand the subject. Using analogs is a great technique for that.
- Whenever you get to the parts that you don’t understand or remember, go back to the material and re-learn, fill in the gaps in your knowledge until you can write an explanation without using the source material.
- Simplify your writing. Get rid of the technical and convoluted language. Make everything as simple as possible.
Start a blog, when you learn something, you can tie all the techniques together as blog posts. You write posts for your audience and learn at the same time.
In learning you will teach, and in teaching you will learn. – Phil Collins
Learn, but don’t forget to play
If you learn something, teach others. Teaching 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 a 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.