Sunday, January 12, 2014

10 Ways to Learn from Life


Courtesy of Marc and Angel Hack Life

Are you too cool for school? Do you loathe exam jitters?

Well, consider this. Most of the stuff we learn don't actually hail from the hallowed halls of educational institutions. Instead, they come from our everyday encounters and experiences.

The challenge however, is this. Are we seizing those opportunities for education? Or do we simply ignore what's going on around us, choosing to focus our attention on that game of "Candy Crush" or whatsapping our friends ad infinitum?

How can we fill our days with life lessons that enrich and enlighten? Let me suggest some ways.

1) Practice the art of listening and observing without interruption. When you are in the company of others, focus on they are truly saying. Paying attention is the first lesson in lifelong learning, and this can take place in any context.

2) Be insanely curious about what you see, hear, smell or touch. Ask yourself a thousand questions. Take an interest in what people are doing (without being overly nosey of course), and make it a point to find out why certain things happen. 

3) Look out for connections and associations wherever you are. Instead of jumping to conclusions, still yourself to think more deeply about the linkages between cause and effect. Where possible, trace the origins of a particular observation.

4) Read books, magazines and journals that illuminate. Bring a book (or e-book) along wherever you go, and resist the temptation to update your Facebook status, tweet, or Whatsapp every hour on the hour. Leave the trashy stuff behind.

5) Write down your thoughts, feelings, and perspectives. As a habit, try to make summaries of what you learn either online or offline in a notebook. Blogging naturally comes into the picture.

6) Take time out to reflect, review and renew. At the end of each day, spend a couple of minutes staring at the ceiling and thinking about what lessons you have learned from the day's events. Each day presents unique learning opportunities, both good and bad.

7) Engage in stimulating discourse with like-minded friends and family members. In the words of Eleanor Roosevelt: "Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people." While I'm not advocating that we become philosophers, it certainly profits us to invest some time in deeper discussions.

8) Seek novel activities that will enrich your senses in a different way. Try a different route to work. Talk to a different colleague each day. Sample a food item that you wouldn't normally touch. Get out of your comfort zone so that you can open yourself to fresh sensations.

9) Exercise and be physically active. Nothing boosts the brain like a dose of endorphin and adrenaline triggered by moving one's muscles. If your days are too hectic to go to the gym, take the stairs or choose to stand while commuting on trains and buses.

10) Finally, embrace opportunities to teach and share what you've learned with others. Doing so often enhances the value of what you know and deepens your knowledge. What's more, you'll be able to pick up useful tips from those whom you've taught.

Are there other ways for us to weave learning into our lives?
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