A Case for Lifelong Learning
We can never run out of things to learn about. In this day and age we have access to all kinds of knowledge in a matter of seconds. Not all of us have a passion for learning, but we all need to make learning a part of our lives in order to thrive beyond the classroom.
One of my top 3 strengths according to the VIA Inventory of Strengths is love of learning. This doesn't mean that I've mastered a long list of concepts; it means that the act of understanding a subject of interest is something that I treasure deeply.
There are a total of 24 strengths in the VIA Inventory of Strengths including ones like creativity, honesty, kindness, leadership, forgiveness and gratitude. Lifelong learning about what's important to you or sets your soul on fire is necessary to build a life you love even if strengths like curiosity and love of learning are at the bottom of your list.
Insights on Intellectual Wellness
Intellectual wellness and lifelong learning go hand in hand. They have a symbiotic relationship and having one can lead to the other. When our intellectual wellness is stable we can respond to life's challenges with adequate reasoning. We can use our intellectual wellness as a stepping stone into lifelong learning, but we can also adopt a philosophy for lifelong learning to have intellectual wellness.
When we think of self-care we might start getting images in our mind's eye of drinking tea, getting a massage or doing yoga. We also need to think about nourishing our minds with stimulating knowledge when we think of self-care. Cultivating our intellectual wellness can help us to maintain good health by reducing the risks of depression and Alzheimer's disease.
Doing activities that foster your cognitive abilities doesn't only boost your brain health, it can also be a great way to build confidence. I use the Elevate app as a learning tool and to keep myself on my toes. I feel a sense of reward after each mini training session and it can be a good warm-up for more cognitively challenging activities like nonfiction reading and participating in a meeting.
For the Love of Learning
One of the best ways to learn something is to teach it to someone else. We can all be someone else's teacher on something. One of my favorite ice breaker prompts is "If you could give a 45-minute presentation on something without any preparation what would it be?" For some of us it's tough to come up with a response to that, but we all have a story to tell based on what we've learned that can be useful to at least another person.
If it's difficult to get yourself to learn something, think about how you can use your knowledge as a gift to someone else. We're wired for social connection after all and having a learning companion can make lifelong learning an incredibly worthwhile journey.
Apply It to Your Life
There are several things you can do to be a lifelong learner no matter whether your motivation for lifelong learning is to maintain your mental sharpness as you age or to impress the people in your life with your knowledge.
Here are some of activities that can help you build your identify as a lifelong learner:
Take online courses on topics that you're curious about through platforms like Coursera or Skillshare
Go to your local library or bookstore to explore and to see what catches your eye
Write the things you learn about yourself or the world on a lifelong learning journal