It feels like a just a few years ago that it was my turn to enter into kindergarten.
Mrs. MacIntosh was my teacher and hero, and Mrs. MacDonald kept me safe on the bus ride to and from school. I still remember how nervous I was. And I remember things that both of those women taught me to this day. Back then, I remember thinking that time moved very slowly -- that I had all the time in the world.
In what seems like a snap of the fingers, it was my turn to send my children to their kindergarten hero: Mrs. McEwen. The years of my education went by in a lazy stroll, but the years of my children's education have gone by in a blink.
We watched my younger son graduate university earlier this year.
I'm afraid that tomorrow I'm going to wake up and be sending my grandchildren off to university.
Time has flown by in the past years, and it seems to pick up speed as I get older.
I need to remember that I still have a long way to go when it comes to learning about life.
I celebrated my 51st birthday recently. Technically, that is past the half-way point. I'm fairly confident that the next 51 years are going to go much faster than the first 51 years have.
I spent the first 51 years learning. Learning how to talk and walk. Learning how to read, attend school, make friends, earn money and preserve relationships.
By no means am I done learning any of those things, and I have even more to learn.
I need to learn to say, "I was wrong" and "I'm sorry" more often. I need to learn that there are others who know more than I do (who may be much younger than I am!), and that I need to listen to what they say. I need to remember that I still have a long way to go when it comes to learning about life.
Does your company offer training that you don't attend? I am always amazed at how many people say things like, "I already know all that stuff. I don't have time to go to a training program where they just rehash old stuff."
Too bad those people already know everything.
I look forward to attending training programs, and I take as many as I can -- even on the topics that I teach! Not because I want to feel good about how much I know, but because I realize there is always more to learn. Learning is more fun at 51 than it was in my youth. I wish I'd realized then how great it is to learn more each day.
I listen to educational podcasts, I read business and educational books and I attend as many educational conferences as possible.
When was the last time you learned something new or tried something different? Just because it isn't broken doesn't mean we can't make it work faster, better and more efficiently.
I'm envious of those young adults just entering into college and university now. If I were just entering university now, I would be first in class and the last to leave. I would want to have a A+ average!
I'm blessed to be in a field that promotes learning. I love to teach. I love seeing the 'ah-ha' sparks in the eyes of my participants.
I get paid to learn, which in itself is pretty exciting. Many of you get paid to learn, too -- you just need take advantage of what your company has to offer. If your company doesn't offer formal training, find a mentor, watch others, surf the Internet (there's a ton of free education available on the Internet), join an association -- and be open to learning.
Ask yourself, "What did I learn today?" every day. Make a point to learn one new thing each day.
I'm excited about what I can learn in the next 51 years. If I'm lucky, I'll figure out a way to sneak in a few extra years of learning too. When I'm done learning, then I'll die. I'm not done learning yet -- not by a long shot!
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How can one "think for longer"? Well, though learning how to quiet the mind and allow thoughts to move in and out freely — otherwise known as meditation. According to author Sogyal Rinpoche, meditation helps people rest in the "essence of mind," quite literally, where thinking comes from. Meditating for even five minutes each day can help train your brain to think for longer.
You might think that forgiving someone for a wrong they've done to you in the past will show weakness, but in fact, this can help your mental strength immensely. According to the Mayo Clinic, letting go a long-held grudge can lead to better spiritual and psychological well-being, making room in your life for healthier relationships and opportunities to grow. Physically, it can also result in lower anxiety and blood anxiety, and is correlated with fewer symptoms of depression. Take the time to think about old hardships you're still holding onto, and take steps to let them go.
You likely have people in your life with whom you disagree (and if you don't, you have to tell us how that's possible). In an attempt to expand your horizons, make a date to sit down with someone who is generally on the opposite side of the fence as you and agree to talk about your different points of view rationally and intelligently. While you may not end up agreeing with them completely, a conversation like this can help you gain perspective, as well as respect for each other.
It's a familiar trope that in Western societies, we tend to relegate older people to the sidelines — and with that, all of the amassed knowledge they've gained over the years. Take advantage of that collective wisdom and spend quality time with the older people in your life, asking them about their experience over the years. If you need some help getting started, check out this great list from Genealogy.com (though you needn't just talk to family members). It will help you gain an appreciation for them, and possibly even give you some tidbits on how to live your own life.
You read the news every day, and that's fantastic — but are you just accepting what's being given to you? If there are topics in which you are interested and you're wondering about whether you're getting the full story, do some research. Find the original sources for the article, look for additional background information and get yourself acquainted with the history for a fuller picture on specific topics.
Yes, yes, get lots of exercise because we know that has its benefits, but get your hands dirty too. Learning a skill that employs physicality can bring about a sense of happiness and knowledge difficult to attain in an office job, as Guardian writer Oliver Burkeman found while learning stonemasonry. It also has the added bonus of giving you a finished product (even if it's just a repaired toilet) when you're done.
Travellers know there can be a big difference between a holiday and a trip. While everyone needs downtime, going to a place that challenges your ideas of what a "normal" schedule looks like, how family life works, even who is valued in a society can really increase your worldview. Even the annoyances that come along with a difficult location can be a learning experience (and make you appreciate home).
When it comes to practical knowledge, it's hard to find a better resource than trade publications. Particularly if your chosen career path has been feeling a bit monotonous as of late, discovering new research and ideas that are cropping up in your field can turn everything around. Besides giving you a whole bucketful of new wisdom, you'll also have a leg up in your industry, and that's never a bad thing.
You may be wondering how getting rid of, say, your childhood toys will help you gain wisdom, but to us, the correlation is obvious. The more stuff you own that isn't getting used, the greater the psychological space it's taking up. Think of it as a physical manifestation of the skills you keep meaning to learn, but never quite get around to — and while you're cleaning up, be sure to take note of the things you simply do not need to buy ever again.
Speaking of habits, are there a few you'd like to break? One of the best ways to gain wisdom is to incorporate it into your daily life and make it part of your regular behaviours. We have some suggestions as to how to get more out of your day, but would love to hear your recommendations for how you've changed your life in some way to make room for new things. Let us know in the comments below!
Follow Rhonda Scharf on Twitter: www.twitter.com/RhondaScharf