Learning For Life: Ideas For An Active Mind

When your life is full and your time precious, the idea of learning for the sake of learning alone isn’t something that often occurs as an option. As you juggle life, career, family commitments, a social life – well, there’s not much time left for anything else, is there?

While it might be necessary to live like this, it’s a real shame that we restrict learning to necessities. We all remember learning at school, then the learning on the job that is required for the majority of careers. But what about learning to benefit you in other ways? What about learning a new skill for the sake of doing it, for nothing more than the sense of accomplishment? Or learning something that might be generally helpful, not for your career (though of course that doesn’t hurt), but to enrich and benefit your life in some way?

The idea should be appealing. Our minds need to stay active; there’s plenty of research that has shown this need time and again. Not only can an active mind be a happier one, but it might also help prevent or stave off degenerative age-related conditions. If you can make the room in your schedule, there’s no reason not to try and learn new things and keep your mind as busy as possible. In fact, you might even find it more relaxing; having something to focus on that isn’t directly related to your career.

So, if you decide to make the leap and bring learning back into your life, what are your choices?

1) Conventional Learning

Conventional learning basically means that you go back to school. That doesn’t mean that you have to abandon your career entirely, of course – night school is usually the best way of picking up a few classes that might interest you.

Of course, you’ll need to decide what to study. There’s nothing wrong with doing something that might also be beneficial for your career, but it’s a nice idea to try and pick something almost at random. You could learn all about home improvement so you can DIY like a pro; see how you are at flower arranging; or learn a whole new appreciation for the beauty of the night sky by studying astronomy.

2) Online Learning

The major advantage that online learning has over conventional study is the sheer flexibility of it. You can learn wherever you have a mobile device and – if you choose the right course – still finish with a recognizable qualification that can even add a little spice to your resume.

This type of learning is best suited to simple, factual disciplines. It’s best to stay away from the arts or anything that requires interpretation or discussion; focusing instead on hard facts and realities. There’s plenty you could sample that would fulfill this brief. You could try learning all about essential oils and how to use them, go for CPR certification to benefit both your life and your resume, or even just brush up on your maths skills. Simple, progressive learning that is rooted in facts is definitely the best way to go.

3) App Learning

If you want to loosen the tether of following a definitive course, then occasional learning via an app might be the best choice for you. This method allows you to pick up and put down your experience as you see fit; so you could sit at it for a few hours on one day, then not touch it for a week if life gets in the way.

With the app industry booming, you’re never going to be short of options. However, by far the most popular kind of app learning tends to be based around learning a new language. There’s plenty of reason to choose this option. Learning a new language not only benefits you on a cognitive level – and can even improve your native vocabulary – but it might also make your next holiday abroad that little easier to manage! There are plenty of apps which can help you pick up the basics of a language. They might not be enough to get you fluent, but they might get you to a point where you want to learn more conventionally to reach that point.

If you don’t want to learn a language, then what are your options? While more restricted, there are still a fair few to choose from. You could try apps to help you learn to speed read or even keep it simple with apps designed to teach you a new word every day.

4) Do It Yourself

So, you’ve run through the options and have yet to find something that makes you want to get the learning fires burning. Okay, not a problem – maybe you need to strip back down to basics to figure out what you want to enrich your mind with. Consider these questions:

  1. What Do You Feel You Don’t Know Enough About?

We all have those areas in our knowledge where we feel like we’re lacking. Our friends can be having a conversation and we feel left out, unable to keep up with their pop culture or current affairs knowledge. Or perhaps you’ve never really understood how the three branches of government work, or other areas that people might consider “basic” but which have seemed to pass you by. There’s no harm in not knowing these things, but they do give you somewhere to start.

  1. What Have You Always Been Curious About?

Most of us have something that interests us, but which we’ve never had the time to learn more about. Often, the thing that fascinates us is a fairly esoteric subject that wouldn’t traditionally be covered by standardized learning. It might be curiosity about how a mummy was made in Ancient Egypt or wanting to actually understand what all those specs for your laptop mean – whatever it is, it’s a jumping off point.

By considering the two above questions, you should be able to find a gap in your knowledge which you can then begin to fill. Teaching yourself something is never easy, and will require a lot of research and discipline – but maybe you prefer to go your own way anyway. Being able to structure the things you learn around something that genuinely interests you or fills a void in your life is incredibly beneficial. While it might not be the most structured way to learn, and it’s not going to result in a qualification, it could still bring a lot of benefits to your life.

5) Completely Random

Finally, what if you’re not sure what you want to know more about at all – and you just want to learn for the sake of learning? That’s not a problem either, especially with the internet to help you out.

The internet gives us access to the entire history of humankind and everything we as a species have been able to learn. So why not dive right on in? You could just head to Wikipedia or similar sites and see what they are suggesting you try for that day. From there, you’ll often find yourself in a click hole – clicking through for more information on various things that interest you. This can be incredibly time consuming, though – so make sure you’re not doing it when you have somewhere to be!

If you have been out of the learning loop for some time, then this kind of haphazard approach can be just what you need to get back into the zone.

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