Do you feel like you’re going through life on autopilot? Are you stuck in a routine that makes you feel like you’re on a treadmill to nowhere? You are not alone . . . you are just suffering from the disconnection of modern life.
There are many healthy ways to help break out of our disconnected living patterns, and this blog discusses many of them — from moving and nourishing our bodies in mindful ways, to clarifying our deepest, most cherished values, to embracing a life of greater simplicity. Today, though, I want to share another small but mighty way to spark greater connection in everyday life: learning.
When We Learn, We Grow
Often, disconnection in our daily lives manifests as a stagnant feeling – like we are stuck in neutral, with no energy or power to direct our path. One of the best ways to break that numbing, soul-sucking spell is to learn something new. When we put our brains to work, asking them to take in and process new ideas, images, or words, we spark a fresh energy within. Our minds click into gear and we are suddenly moving forward again.
It’s hard to overstate the power of this regenerative force. As human beings, we love to learn new things. Our brains thrive on the challenge of change. While people vary significantly in the degree to which they enjoy the struggle, it’s clear that when our brains are challenged to learn new things, they are healthier.
When we learn something new, our brain cells literally are growing – forming new neural connections where there were none before. Learning also helps us grow in the figurative sense, expanding our world view to see more than we did before. We notice new things. We understand in greater detail. We have different perspectives from which to consider things. We have new knowledge or skills that help us navigate the world. We become more evolved, more capable, and more vibrant versions of ourselves.
When we make the effort to learn, we inhabit ourselves more fully. We reconnect to ourselves.
No Student Loans Required
While there are many rewarding learning opportunities available through schools, organizations, community colleges, and universities, modern-day learning opportunities don’t require that you sit in a classroom or spend any money at all.
To give just a few of many examples: On the internet, in just a few clicks, you can learn how to make sourdough bread from scratch or how to build your own website. At your local library, you could learn a new language from their audiovisual materials, brush up on your town’s history, and borrow anything from philosophical texts to a how-to primer on plumbing. The world of podcasts also offers countless opportunities for listeners to learn more about whatever their favorite topics are, from travel and politics to movies and language. The possibilities are limited only by our imaginations.
Because of the powerful impact learning has on our sense of self and self-connection, I always encourage people to carve out some time for learning on a regular basis. Think of it as a self-care regimen. Even if it’s just fifteen minutes during your commute to work, learning activities can powerfully jump start our appreciation of life, expand our minds, and nurture greater connection to ourselves and the world.