Loving Learning

Do you love learning? I do. Learning is part of living fully. Most of what I have learned, however, was not from an accredited institution of higher learning. Like many others, what is most valuable to me is what I learned from life, through achievement as well as from failure and going on from there. Once in a while though, I have had the advantage of learning from others’ mistakes. Those lessons are sweet.

I am newly interested in learning now that I have been reading about brain plasticity, neuroscience and learning processes. Tim Ferris, the author of The 4-Hour Work Week and The 4-Hour Body is releasing a new book on accelerated learning and living the good life, The 4-Hour Chef.

As we wait for his book, I wrote down a few simple enhancements to learning that you can put to use immediately. Tuition free.

One. Be aware of and drop your assumptions. Any professor worth his/her salt will remind the students that assumptions tell us that we already know something when we really don’t. Particularly troublesome for me are assumptions that identify a person, group or situation as a recognizable type. The truth is that each person, group and situation are unique. If we can’t see the differences, we haven’t used the lab equipment. Typing may be efficient but it closes the door to uniqueness and learning.

Two. Look for patterns of your own behavior. This helps you learn about your own blind spots, your projections on others, your dead ends and avoidances. This course of study is rarely attended in spite of the great advantages and its minimal tuition.

Three. Examine generalizations you hear or make for their distortions and inconsistencies. Also examine the same generalizations for the seeds of truth that make them popular and easily believed. I play goalie when someone tries to kick one in.  Sometimes it feels the entire team is helping the opponents score on me!

Learning is one of life’s best rewards. It keeps us growing and engaged. Learning is so vital that I often remark, “The day I don’t learn something is the day I begin to die.”

BTW, learning and training are not the same. Training is good for achieving results quickly and efficiently and for repetitive tasks, like sports. Mental training is also effective for dodging evidence and logic.

But this is important: we are not here to get results or to be hamsters on a wheel of routine. We are here to commit to life and learning about life improves when we commit to it as it is.

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