LIFELONG LEARNERS JUST MIGHT KNOW
You won’t just find a passion, you’ll find yourself.
We spend our whole lives learning, from our families and communities, in school and college, throughout our careers, when we travel—we are curious creatures. And it never really stops. As we get older, we keep thinking about new things we can learn and enjoy. Lifelong learning keeps us going. After all, there are a ton of benefits.
Learning is empowering
Most of us are so busy, we tend to lose track of that thing we call the self quite easily. It can’t really be avoided. We are wrapped up in our families, work, and other life responsibilities. And for good reason, those things mean a lot to us. But inevitably, as we age, we want to find that person we used to know inside of us again. More often than not we do that by delving into an old interest or discovering a new one and learning everything we can about it.
That rediscovery of self, that personal choice, is often reinvigorating and empowering. We all crave choice and want to feel we have some control over our lives and futures, and learning is frequently oriented toward self-determination. (1) As it turns out, 74% of adults consider themselves lifelong personal learners, and 80% of them pursue interests to make their lives more fulfilling. (2)
Learning helps us connect with others
Another pesky thing about life keeping us so busy is that in all the coming and going, we often start to feel like we don’t get to connect with people beyond a surface level as much as we’d like. But when we branch out a bit and learn something new, we can meet others interested in the same things, and those bonds do us a world of good.
Almost 30% of people have two to four different interests or hobbies. (3) And that has a significant correlation with something we tend to value a lot—happiness. People who consider themselves very happy are 43% more likely to seek out new experiences than even those who consider themselves generally happy. (4) Take some time to find something you love, maybe something you already know and have been putting off, then get to googling some groups in your area, and get out there and connect.
Learning keeps our brains healthy
We all know what brain fog is, that not-so-great feeling of listlessness and torpor that somehow always sneaks up on us when we’re tired, overworked, or stressed. We laugh about it and do the best we can to fight it off, but the reality is it takes real effort to keep our brains thriving. Continuous learning is a big key. Being intellectually engaged has major benefits for the brain. Studies show that people who participate in activities they find meaningful say they feel happier and healthier, and are less likely to develop life-threatening diseases. (5)
Lifelong learning can enhance self-esteem while giving you a sense of purpose and feelings of competency, which are crucial to our mental health and well-being. Research also shows mental activity can stave off age-related cognitive and memory decline, even dementia. (6) Learning later in life promotes neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to develop new neural pathways that help us gain new perspectives and take on new challenges. (7)
Take some me time and you’ll get a lot out of the new you
Remember, we’re all lifelong learners, but sometimes we need a little reminder to stay motivated. Carve out some me time to explore something you’ve always wanted to know more about. The benefits go well beyond what’s mentioned above. A new interest can expand our world, change our entire outlook, and make us more productive in everything we do.
Thanks for checking out the blog.
Joe Breslin , CFP®
(2) Pew Research Center: Lifelong Learning and Technology
(4) New York Post: The secret to happiness is shockingly mundane
(5) NIH National Institute on Aging: Participating in Activities You Enjoy As You Age
(7) Suffolk University Center for Continuing and Professional Education: The Impact of Lifelong Learning on Your Health