“Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow.” – Anthony J. D’Angel
Naturally, as adults, we tend to learn less than we did as children. Of course, as children, our bodies and brains are developing fast, and learning is integral to our growth into adults. However, learning is not such a large part of adult life. Indeed, once we know the basics of adult existence, our ability and desire to learn can stagnate.
If you are interested in personal growth, then your ability to learn is something you should practice. Growth is impossible without learning, and the more you learn to, well, learn, the more efficient you will become at it!
Now, if you are happy where you are in life, and don’t desire to move up or away from where you’re present exitance, your learning muscles may not be something you think you need to exercise. However, learning is about more than just growth. Learning improves our general brain function, as well as our ability to cope with change. And change is something that comes for all of us at some point.
So, here are a few ways to consciously keep your mind agile in the art of learning…
1. Visit Somewhere Unfamiliar
I always used to wonder why my parents took us to the same place on holiday every year. ‘Why not try somewhere new?’, I would think. ‘This is boring!’. But, as an adult, I totally get it. You go on holiday somewhere; you work out where everything is and acclimatise to the status quo… you have a lovely time. Then, next year, you think, ‘I could go somewhere new. But why would I, now that I have a stress-free option that I know I like?’
There is a lot to be said for visiting places that we are familiar with. It’s much less stressful and doesn’t require us to learn anything new. That being said, sometimes it is good to be somewhere new. It forces you to engage the learning part of your brain. Sure, it could be a new holiday destination. But maybe it’s as simple as trying a new coffee place from time to time, or going to a new supermarket and having to work out where they keep the cheese.
You don’t always have to ruffle the feathers of your routine like this, but it helps to do it on occasion.
2. Pick Up A New Hobby
The idea of a new hobby can seem overwhelming. There’s this idea that hobbies aren’t worth it unless you go for it all the way and spend loads of your time doing it. But hobbies needn’t be life-swallowing projects or stressful. My wife, over lockdown, decided to learn how to decorate cookies. It is something that she learned gradually. It is something that she found claiming. It is also something that she doesn’t do very often now, and she has managed not to judge herself for it. It’s a small new skill that she sometimes returns to and is always very happy when she does. It has brought her joy and it kept her mind active in a period of mental stagnation.
3. Break Down New Skills into Components
If a new skill you have to learn is overwhelming you, break it down into smaller components. The idea mastering of a many-faceted skill can feel like too much, especially if you haven’t learnt anything new in a while. Consciously break the skill down into components and concentrate on mastering each component in isolation. Try to concentrate on laying each brick, not on building the house.
4. Look For New Avenues in Existing Skill Sets
If you are not in need of a new skill but want to engage the learning part of your brain, try to look for ways to advance the skillsets you already have. I often do this with cooking. I am an enthusiastic good cook and will often try to add a new skill to my arsenal. For example, I once spent six months working on how to make bread. I once decided to learn how to fillet a fish and joint a chicken. They were not such big exercises that they took up a lot of my time, but extremely satisfying, nonetheless.
5. Discover Your Ideal Learning Process
Seeing out things to learn also helps you to work out what learning processes are the most effective for you personally. When taking on a learning process, try to consciously engage with how you are learning, and question whether it is working for you. The skill itself might not be that difficult, it might be the way you are going about learning it.
By Chris Thomson
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