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How Lifelong Learning Keeps Us Happy & Fulfilled

There are certain things that we are so passionate about, especially things that we know are aspects of the recipe for creating happier people and a safer, more joyous world. One of those things is a learning mindset as part of culture, which leads to an educated and productive populace. In our modern, wired world, however, we need to re-think learning. Instead of being a formal activity we commit to or are committed to (like kids) in life, a lifelong education mind-set should include our own ongoing processes of learning and personal evolution.

Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel. ―  Socrates

The most important skill in our self-service, information-rich, world is learning to learn, also dubbed meta-cognition. Once someone perfects this skill there are nearly unlimited options for personal development, as well as a persistent urge to continue to expand one’s repertoire. It’s why traditional education models are forced to evolve while understanding that the role of the teacher or instructor is as important as ever. In fact, The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) says that we are going to need 69 million new teachers in order to meet their global education and learning goals.

But this isn’t business-as-usual education or training. Why fill a head with so much stuff when so many of us have access to all the world’s knowledge in the palms of our hands? This is a huge opportunity in the making, but it doesn’t completely obviate the need for more formal and hands-on instruction. The goal of education should be creating lifelong learners and helping learners understand how to take advantage of all the learning possibilities at their disposal. This means making available a wide array of options that allow learners to pursue a lifelong path of learning.

Every person, at every stage of their life should have lifelong learning opportunities to acquire the knowledge and skills they need to fulfill their aspirations and contribute to their societies. – UNESCO

Learning new things not only makes us more successful, it also makes us happier. It’s also known to forestall conditions like dementia and even Alzheimer’s. Keeping the mind active while learning new things and exploring one’s passions is the key to a healthy brain.  It also keeps life fun and connects us with like-minded people who share our passions!

Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. ―  Henry Ford

It can be helpful to think about things you would like to improve upon, given specific personal or professional goals, even the things that seem out of reach. Digging into casual interests can also spark lifelong passions and give us the skills we need to comfortably explore new realms in life and work.  Make a commitment to try something new each month!


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