Learning new things is associated with higher levels of emotional and psychological wellbeing. Learning can mean you: try something new, rediscover an old interest, sign up for that course, take on a different responsibility at work, fix a bike or learn to play an instrument or how to cook your favourite food. Set yourself a challenge! Learning new things will make you more confident, as well as being fun.
We often think about learning as being something important for children or young adults. We place a great deal of importance on making sure young people develop skills, knowledge and experience to help them on their journey into adulthood. But research shows it’s just as important for people of all ages and life stages to keep learning for happiness, health and wellbeing.
Why it’s important to Keep Learning
The adult brain is capable of rewiring itself well into middle age, incorporating decades of experiences and behaviours. Research suggests that the middle-aged mind is calmer, less neurotic and better able to sort through social situations.
With a brain already full of well-connected pathways, adult learners should “jiggle their synapses a bit” by confronting thoughts that are contrary to their own. It can include anything from reading multiple viewpoints on a subject or learning a foreign language to taking a different route to work. Anything that is different from our usual patterns will help.
Learning new things can be fun, boost our self-confidence, self-esteem, help us to find meaning and purpose in life, and connect us with others.
Studies show learning throughout life can help us enjoy life more, and improve our knowledge, thinking skills and ability to cope with stress.
Broadening our minds helps us gain insight into life, ourselves, and the world around us, which are all good things for our wellbeing.
How to Keep Learning
Learning is about challenging ourselves to do something in a different way to what we’ve done before – it doesn’t have to mean getting more qualifications. Learning can take many shapes and forms and you can learn in different environments (at home, or while you are shopping, for example), not just at school or uni. It’s easy to fit learning into your daily routine, as long as you’re open to different experiences.
Set yourself a new challenge today and you will immediately see the rewards of achieving a new goal.
Help the children with their homework and learn something new from them.
Visit the local library.
Try new things.
Visit a museum or art gallery.
Remember one positive thing a day.
Try a new sport or exercise class.
Listen to talkback radio programs.
Join a social group or interest group.
How to Keep Learning at work
Take on a new role.
Walk or drive a new way to work.
Find out about the hobbies and interests of others.
Seek out opportunities for professional development.
“I was sitting on the sofa at night watching TV and eating snacks. I was getting fat! Then I read something on MSN that talked about not snacking after 7 or 8 at night. It was really hard to sit and watch TV and not do something with my hands so I decided to take up knitting. I went to Spotlight, spoke with one of the ladies who helped me with the needles, wool and directed me to a couple of websites. I visited my Grandma and she sat down with me and went through it step by step. I am just about to finish my first scarf, in the Collingwood colours of course”.
“We live inside a bubble within a big world. But with the internet, everything and everyone is closer now. I can’t afford to travel to meet new people from different cultures but I can jump online! So, with this in mind I took up conversational Spanish through the CAE. I now have posted an ad on Language Exchange to talk with someone from Spain.”
“I am a Holden man from way back! When I was a kid, dad drove a Kingswood…good times. I was really excited to see a few wrecks advertised on Gumtree and thought ‘ I wonder if I could bring one back to its glory years?’ So, I went online and checked out a few Youtube videos, spoke with a couple of fellow enthusiasts and grabbed a manual. I pulled out the motor with a mate last week. She is going to look beautiful.”