“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” -Henry Ford
I’m the first-time parent of a one-year-old.
Far and away my favorite thing, other than just falling in love with Little Monster, has been to watch him learn.
He is a tenacious learner. He is always pushing the envelope of what he can do physically. He is always tinkering with his toys in new ways to see what will happen. And, to my astonishment, he can sit quietly with a book and be completely absorbed.
I watch him doggedly and joyfully seek to learn about his world, and I realize anew this simple truth:
We are all born learners.
That is, when we are little kids, we all love to learn. We are obsessed with gathering all the knowledge we can about the world we are born into, and here’s the thing:
It’s not work.
Somewhere along the way, of course, many of us lose that sense of joy when it comes to learning. Learning becomes a chore and we avoid it. Or even if we like learning, and consider ourselves “bookish” or “thinkers”, we still tend to approach it like work.
But if we approach it like work, not only are we far less likely to actively seek out learning, but we are also less likely to listen to our instincts and choose to learn about subjects that actually interest us. We’re more likely to choose things that seem “self-improving” or rich in social currency.
That’s not such a bad thing. After all, research has found that continuing to learn anything into old age keeps the brain young.
But if you are seeking to live a creative life, it is important that you listen to those instincts and pursue the knowledge that sounds interesting to you.
Even if no one else is interested in it.
Even if there’s no clear way to parlay your knowledge into making money.
Even if you, yourself, aren’t quite sure why you’re interested in it!
Because you simply don’t have the capability of already knowing where this new knowledge will lead you.
Maybe it will be the subject of a book or film one day. Or maybe it will simply be a stepping stone to lead you to a greater passion.
You will never know unless you follow your instincts.
And that means reclaiming your joy in learning.
This is your mission this week:
- Choose something, anything that interests you. Don’t overthink this. It could be learning about a new cuisine, a figure in history you’ve always been curious about, or a song who’s meaning eludes you.
- If you have 15-30 minutes: Take a mental break by doing a simple Google search about your topic. Have fun satiating your curiosity, and maybe discovering some new blogs, books, or other sources you’d like to investigate further!
- If you have an hour or more: Seek out an experience that will teach you more about this subject. Seek out a documentary on Netflix or at the library. Download a free language app and learn a few phrases in a language you’ve always been curious about. Cook a meal in a cuisine you’ve been dying to try, or even take a cooking class!
There are two things to remember here:
- This should be FUN! You are simply following your fancy. No strings attached. If you do a quick Google search and realize you’re not actually into 18th century Mandolin Concertos after all, no harm done. You’ve simply cleared room in your brain to pursue something else.
- Learning can be EASY. You don’t have to pour hours into self-improvement if you don’t have the time. But you don’t have to let your brain remain stagnant and bored just cause you’re busy. Taking even 15 minutes to learn a little something gives your brain something to chew on as you’re chasing the kids around and doing dishes for the 5th time today.
If you’re journaling through this journey, here are some prompts for you:
- Set a timer for one minute. For one minute, without stopping, list anything and everything that pops into your head that is interesting to you. When the timer stops, look over your list and immediately choose something without giving it too much thought. You’re not marrying this pursuit, you’re giving it 15 minutes to an hour of your time.
- What keeps you from learning new things or following your passions? Make a list for one minute.
- How could your life change if you made just a little time for learning new things and following your fancy? How would it impact your mood, your drive, your daily routine?
Now go out there and learn something, my friends!
If you are new to this ABC (Achievable Bite-Sized Creativity) challenge, here is the rest of the series:
This week I’d love to know: Is there something you’ve always been dying to learn more about? Or something that has recently struck your fancy? Do tell what you’ll be learning about this week!