Ray LeBlond said that you learn something every day if you pay attention. These words convey intentionality and a disciplined approach to gaining more knowledge and wisdom. The day that people stop learning–whether we are conscious of it or not–is the day that we stop growing. A few implications of not growing include a literal brain decline, stifled creativity, poor decision-making, and more. Here are 5 ways for you to sharpen your mind and expand yourself through learning:
- Make use of your online resources. Innovation won’t stop and the internet is here to stay. But instead of being slaves to our screens, we can choose to be its master by being deliberate about the media we consume. Maximize the free resources that the Web has to offer instead of scrolling mindlessly on social media. Want to earn a degree but don’t have the time to attend classes? Take online courses. Collectives like TED have TED-Ed where bite-sized information is presented in engaging videos. Subscriptions like Scribd allow you to explore books, audiobooks, and articles on-the-go. There is no shortage of resources that suit everyone’s learning styles.
- Have one-on-one talks with someone who shares a different viewpoint. Science fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein said that he has never learned from a man who agreed with him. While you can always learn from someone who does agree with you, you gain a richer perspective from someone who challenges your own views. Here we are not promoting diatribes but rather a thoughtful dialogue. Meaningful discussions seem to be a lost art these days but proves to be valuable for personal growth. Approach conversations with an open mind, be slow to speak and quick to listen. You will emerge from the exchange with new ideas, new perspectives, and perhaps a new friend.
- Change it up. If you’re always in the city, schedule time to visit the park and get some greenery. Opt to work in a coffee shop instead of your office. Wake up earlier than usual and see how you feel. Listen to that jazz artist that your colleague has been telling you about. Take a different route when you go jogging. See where we’re getting at here? Incorporate new experiences into your day even if they are small ones. Your brain will thank you for it.
So in an age filled with information overload, pursue critical thinking, engage in what makes you feel alive, don’t be afraid to have disagreements and to switch up your routine. Being intentional about continuous learning will help you solve problems creatively, influence others more effectively, and improve your quality of life.