Learning is a fundamental right and privilege. People have fought and died for the opportunity to receive and use not just knowledge, but wisdom. Learning is something that never has to stop, but you may find at times it has been put on hiatus. In your later years, it is easy to fall back on what you already know to guide you into the future. But as times change and the future becomes history, you can make sure you continue growing and evolving just as the younger generation does.
Back to school
If you’re looking for formal education, you can go back to school. Whether you’re seeking a standard or advanced degree or certification, furthering your education will broaden your horizons. You can also take continuing education classes for leisure. And there are a whole host of convenient free courses available online.
If informal education is more your speed, take a community class. Look in your local newspaper, mail circular, or online for a community gathering where you can learn something new. Today’s top trends could have you leaning toward something eco-friendly, an ancient technique, lessons in new thought or, especially, creative.
I took a ceramics class on a whim during my University of Miami days, and it was one of the best experiences I’d had in college. It turns out I am quite skilled at pottery and look forward to resuming my newfound interest when the time comes around again.
Continue on your spiritual path and find ways to strengthen, deepen or broaden your faith. Find out more about your particular faith or other avenues of faith. Join or visit a seminary school or a community faith-based meeting or organization. Ask the long-time members what principals they have learned and carry with them throughout life. In particular, ask them how their understanding of their faith has changed and what wisdoms their knowledge has given them.
Whether in physical books or carefully collected online, there is a wealth of information on any and all subjects out there. Pick one, and go for it. It doesn’t have to be any kind of formal class. Just visit your local library. Or, type a subject into Google and you’ll receive more feedback than you can handle. Dive into the first few links that look promising and at least semi-professional.
I particularly like researching sociological, psychological and emotional phenomena. Such as personality profiles, motivations, disorders and addictions. It helps me understand myself and the people in my life better if I can get a grasp on how we operate as individuals, couples, groups and a society on the whole. I have learned many miscommunications and misfires can either be avoided, or at the very least, understood and accepted. Then I can move on happily, and teach others to do the same.
Pick up a new hobby, like fishing, dancing, painting or writing. Creative and leisure pursuits are a great way to learn something new and exciting or relaxing. You’ll meet other enthusiasts who will give you great tips, tricks and tidbits to make your introduction smooth and fun. Then, when you become an old pro, you can pass all of this wisdom on to the next generation of incoming newbies.
Strike up a conversation. It’s amazing how open and willing the average person is to just sit and talk with a stranger. Go to a book store, the park or even a restaurant and just start talking to someone. Having a conversation with someone you wouldn’t normally speak with, or someone you don’t know, will really open your world to all kinds of possibilities. “Don’t talk to strangers,” is appropriate for child safety. But really, everyone is a stranger until we get to know them. Get to know more people and you’ll be surprised at all you learn.
Remember, a conversation flows two ways. It is fun to talk, but don’t forget to listen. Listening is more than just hearing. Really try to absorb and understand what another person has to say.
Volunteering is a great way to learn information as well as make lasting connections. The benefits of working toward a common cause or philanthropic goal are immeasurable. Donate your time to food pantries, soup kitchens, animal shelters and children’s organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters. What you learn through these experiences can last a lifetime — and change it forever.
Sometimes the best lessons are the ones we teach ourselves. Reflect on your life — all the triumphs and missteps — and extract all the knowledge and wisdom you can from your experiences and decisions. Use these to your and others’ benefit moving forward. Continue doing so throughout your life. You’ll never stop experiencing, so you’ll never stop being able to learn from your own life.
Learning is easy once you make a conscious effort to continue with it. To continue learning you have to continue listening. To listen, you must be open to new experiences, perspectives or even entirely new schools of thought. New may feel scary or uncomfortable, but the more you allow new into your life, the more you’ll see you have much more to gain than to be fearful of. You’ll learn to embrace new, and new will help you embrace learning.