Have you ever thought about how much you learn every day?
Whether at work or at home with the kids, I guarantee you are learning a lot.
Psychology and human development from interacting with coworkers and your child dictators. The human body and nutrition from taking care of yourself and your family. New technology from work projects and your kids. Other cultures from clients, neighbors, strangers in the grocery store, students, and your kids’ friends. And yourself as you experience new things.
Even though we are subconsciously learning all the time, it’s important to also be intentional learners.
Learning has benefits to your health, finances, relationships, society at large–and it simply feels good to actively participate in the learning process.
You do not have to go sign up for more college classes to learn, though that’s a huge benefit of community colleges with their cheap tuition! But, you do not need to spend tons on lifelong learning.
Today I’m sharing some of my favorite ways to continue learning at any stage of life, so you can make your brain and mind happy your whole life!
Pew Research said that 24% of Americans haven’t read a full book or even part in the last year, including print, online and audio. That’s nuts! My husband and I got married a few weeks after we graduated college and one of the first things we did when we got back from the honeymoon was walk to the city library and get cards. And it has been one of our first stops in every new city we’ve lived in. Our current home is the first one that’s not within walking distance of the library, but we still take our kids regularly. I love reading a mix of stories and personal development books, and I approached this year’s New Years Goals in terms of books I want to read. I love that there are many books on the same topic, but I can learn from each author’s perspective. Barring communication disorders, reading is the easiest way to continue learning.
Museums, Visitors Centers, & Landmarks
These are related enough that I lump them together. And I love them all! I’m totally that person in the group holding everyone up because I’m reading all the plaques. I can’t pinpoint when I started to love them, but it may be from numerous family road trips where we stopped at Glen Canyon Dam for a bathroom break in the visitors center… Now when I travel, I check out which ones are close by. Some highlights have been the United Nations in NYC, the Statue of Liberty, Yankee Stadium, basically everything at the National Mall, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Gateway Arch, the Commemorative Air Force Museum in Mesa, AZ, Boys Town, and of course the Mormon Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters where I was a missionary at in Nebraska! There’s so much inspiring history, art, and information about the places we live in and visit. And my favorite kind of learning is the kind that inspires!
Get involved in organizations! There are so many types: national, local, work-related, community, gender focused, service focused, political, etc. When we moved back to Utah last year, I signed up for the Utah Women & Leadership Project newsletter. They send out emails detailing local events, research, videos and anything related to their mission. I have learned a lot from and been inspired by attending events and the articles they share. There’s another one called Braid Workshop that focuses on female entrepreneurship. It’s fun to see how much has changed in the area since we were students here several years ago. Then there are national organizations I belong to as part of my work that send out information to help me develop. Think about what you’re interested in and start researching organizations to join up with!
Workshops & Seminars
These don’t have to be work-related! I saw on Facebook this week that a girl I went to school with is a doula now and runs workshops on childbirth and the feminine divine or something. I didn’t quite understand it, but it was obvious she was passionate and lots of people attend. If that’s your thing, go for it! Into genealogy? Go to RootsTech or another genealogy conference in your area. Attend a parenting or marriage workshop. I’m taking Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop workshops at the end of the month offered by the library on campus to gain some new skills. There are tons of options locally, online, or with travel that you can participate in. If you’re not sure where to begin, start with your library and see what they offer.
One of the benefits of being back in Utah is there are a million festivals in this state. We spent the 4th of July afternoon at Colonial Fest, learning what life was like for the people during Revolutionary times. I’ve been before, but it is always fascinating! There are festivals surrounding music, specific ancestry (Irish and Hawaii festivals have been super fun), agriculture, and many of my friends in Arizona love the Strong Beer Festival. These are interactive ways to learn about the specific topic and usually to buy handmade goods. Like these freaking cute silhouettes of my girls we got yesterday–they’re so lifelike!
Everyone loves a good documentary on Netflix! I particularly enjoy the ones that examine food issues in America. You have to keep in mind that documentaries are typically super biased, so still do some research before making drastic changes in your life regarding many of the topics. Except the crime ones–safe to say you shouldn’t be a serial killer. Anyways, these are another good way to learn about others’ points of view, current events, and history.
Hobbies have taught me so much! Cooking, sewing, graphic design, exercise, public speaking, writing, and a slew of others. As I watched that guy hand cut the silhouettes of my kids, I was blown away. My brother and sister-in-law have become Chip and Joanna Gaines in their home design skills. Even with my teeny balcony garden, I learn stuff about plants, soil and insects all the time and gain a greater appreciation for our awesome planet. Shoot, even if Instagram is your hobby, go follow some educational profiles like National Geographic, the National Archives, the National Women’s History Museum, or the Smithsonian. Starting a new hobby is a sure way to learn a ton and there are endless options!
Watching my children get excited when they learn a new skill reminds me that it is part of who we are. I firmly believe that learning is vital to our happiness as individuals and in our relationships with others. So with all of the subconscious learning you’re doing, don’t forget to actively seek out knowledge too!
What do you do to keep learning?