Learn Something New Every Day
The first three years of life consist of the most dramatic developmental shifts a human will ever experience. Newborns go from being unable to see, speak, remember, and even hold up their own heads to self-feeding, running, never-forgetting motor-mouths by age three. Through example, their brains figure out complex languages, social cues, physical maneuvers, and emotions (well, they are still working on that aspect at three). As an adult, with a conscious perspective, imagine going through this rapid cognitive advancement. It’s mind boggling.
This age also denotes a time of great excitement. Every day, babies and toddlers learn something to add to their repertoire. Every single day they demonstrate their enthusiasm through dropping their food off their highchair trays, splashing water out of the tub, and squishing various foods between their fingers. They strive to do things on their own. They obsess over new words by repeating them all day long. Every day, their brains naturally learn many new things, and before you know it, they’re off to school to learn some more.
Humans continue down that path for many years, with their main objective being to learn. As a society, we spend a great amount of money and time providing education to our children, even beyond high school. We move on to obtain degrees and certifications, and then we go to work. For many, the journey to learn stops there. Contentment creeps in, and the hectic schedules of our working and family lives prevent us from consciously learning new things. But we need to introduce ourselves to new ideas and perspectives every day, for personal growth and wellness.
You may be able to get by with minimal cognitive effort. The brain naturally craves information, so it’s impossible to not absorb data through our senses, but to set out to learn with purpose will provide you with countless benefits.
· Fight boredom
· Identify new passions
· Collect ideas to talk about
· Gain personal insight
· Reduce stress
· Improve job performance (even if you don’t learn about your job)
· Grow the connections of your brain
· Increase confidence
· Become invigorated
· Help others with your knowledge and cultivate empathy
· Sharpen decision-making and critical thinking skills
The ways that learning enhances your life are limitless. Everything you put into your brain will help you adapt to new situations and will lead you to new opportunities for a better quality of life. You may choose to learn for professional reasons, mental stimulation, or mindless enjoyment (yes, you can learn there, too). Whatever your motivations, do choose to consciously learn one new thing every day. It will refresh your brain, create new connections, and improve your personal well-being.
This is the most fundamental of all learning processes, but its benefits are limitless. Reading in itself is a great cognitive exercise. Through it you not only learn new ideas, but you learn new words, about other cultures, and gain insight into other people’s perspectives. It is a personal activity that forges certain relationships with characters, authors, and people of our world. Your use of language will improve, and it is a great way to set an example for younger generations. For an added challenge, try to read unfamiliar genres or pick up a magazine you wouldn’t normally choose.
2. Subscribe to informative sites and feeds.
So many websites have the option to sign up for daily or weekly e-mails, and they’re mostly free! Wikipedia, for example, e-mails its daily-article-1 subscribers one feature every day about all sorts of interesting topics; you can subscribe here https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/daily-article-l. Many online dictionaries and encyclopedias also have daily feeds that you can read, as well as more cultural sites, such as Your Daily Art, which showcases art with interesting facts.
3. Stay savvy and current.
Be in tune with what’s “trending”. I’m not a fan of current music trends or TV shows, but I try and keep up with who’s who and what’s what. Knowing who Kanye West recently offended may be more important than knowing Hamlet’s famous monologue when trying to start a conversation. YouTube is a great way to learn about music and other topics in popular culture. Most importantly, stay current in the news. It may be dismal, but it’s important to be an informed citizen.
4. Listen to podcasts.
Anyone with a smartphone or tablet can download a podcast app. You can select your favorite stations and browse popular topics. TED talks and NPR podcasts are popular for traditional computer users.
5. Go to meetups.
If you visit meetup.com, you can find any group of interest all over the world. You can even start your own meetup. Meetups are informal gatherings where like-minded people network, brainstorm, problem-solve, and do whatever it is that people in that group do.
6. Watch movies and documentaries.
Netflix gives its members access to a variety of documentaries, and again, you can find a lot of interesting media (for free) on YouTube. The public library is also a great place to check out movies you’ve probably never heard of before. Watch new genres or try foreign films (while you’re at it, pick up a new language!).
Learning facts, languages, and cultural information is important, but understanding the human condition is essential. Volunteer at local schools, community centers, and food pantries to get to know people of all ages. Read to seniors, feed the homeless, or coach a youth sport. You will learn more about life than any book, documentary, or podcast will ever teach you.
- Melissa Lavery, M.S.
Bass, M. (2014, April 23). 10 Reasons Why You Should Learn Something New Every Day. Retrieved March 20, 2015, from http://successgroove.com/articles/10-reasons-why-you-should-learn-something-new-every-day.html
Bieller, E. (2014, January 10). 10 Techniques for Learning Something New Every Day. Retrieved March 20, 2015, from http://blog.sqwiggle.com/10-techniques-for-learning-something-new-every-day/
Wax, D. (n.d.). Learn Something New Every Day. Retrieved March 20, 2015, from http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/learn-something-new-every-day.html
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