Why Learning is So Important Today

The ability to learn is one of the things that make humans human, that differentiates us from other species. Humans have to learn, it’s our nature to do so. From birth it’s the one thing that we do most naturally, other than bodily functions. From birth everything that we are doing we’re learning, whether it’s playing, moving, or just looking and listening. For many as we grow we learn less, or stop learning all together. It should be the exact opposite, with the wisdom of age we should know that we could always be learning, and should always be learning. Learning is important and required for human growth and advancement.

Learning provides so much. Learning is enjoyable and fun. Those that don’t enjoy learning are not approaching it with the right attitude. Learning leads to happiness and wellness. Learning new things keeps the mind stimulated, more positive, and growing. This leads to improved brain health and contributes towards wellness. Learning generally helps one to be more optimistic, open, and inquisitive. These are contributors to happiness. Learning is a powerful example to others, to family, friends, and community. Learning is good for society and provides many societal benefits from lowering unemployment to improving overall population health. It’s an important example of leadership to others. Combining learning with meditation, greater mindfulness and the effects of learning will foster greater inner peace and will spread to others. The more people who are learning the more peace on the planet.

Lifelong learning is the ongoing, voluntary and self-motivated pursuit of knowledge throughout one’s life. It’s an attitude and for many a way of life. Lifelong learning could influence all aspects of one’s life. The pursuit of lifelong learning is an admirable, desirable, and beneficial pursuit.

Learning is also very important for one’s work life. We know that we are now in a learning economy, no longer a knowledge economy, where economic growth is dependent on one’s ability to adapt and learn in order to create opportunities and growth. The pace of change in technology, the economy and global competition dictates that the ability to learn and adapt to new situations is the most important requirement for global success. In today’s learning economy, the ability to learn is the most important and overlooked skill required for life and business success.

Learning is so important because it’s a requirement for living, it’s the new lifeblood.

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How Anxiety Affects Lifelong Learning

This is our first guest post and is contributed by Ryan Rivera, and is an example of occasional posts by contributors on related topics. One of our key goals is to educate readers about the importance of and impact of wellness on lifelong learning. Ryan’s post is very relevant to lifelong learning as anxiety must be managed by many of us to achieve our goals and strive for our dreams.

Your brain is an incredibly powerful organ, and one that is more complex than even research gives it credit for. But as powerful as it is, it can also be very sensitive, especially to your emotions and your mental health.

Learning and Anxiety

Your brain, of course, is your most important tool for learning. It is also extremely affected by anxiety. Anxiety, which affects millions of people in the United States alone, is so powerful that it can shut off some parts of your brain completely. It also causes many different issues that affect learning, including:

  • Fatigue – Perhaps the biggest problem with anxiety is fatigue. Anxiety is very draining both mentally and physically, and yet you need energy if you hope to learn and stay active in life. Without that energy, there is simply no way to keep yourself motivated or focused on the world around you, let alone any classes or personal learning activities you undertake.
  • Distracted Thinking – Similarly, your mind can only focus on a select number of items at any given time. So when you have anxiety, your ability to focus on other items decreases. Anxiety can clog all of your thoughts and prevent you from seeing and remembering everything in front of you, causing many issues with lifelong learning.
  • Memory Loss – On a physical level, anxiety and stress can actually prevent the creation of new memories and trigger memory loss. It’s not entirely clear why this occurs, but many studies have confirmed that those with chronic anxiety lose memories more than those with no anxiety at all.
  • Poor Priorities – It’s not just the effects of anxiety either. Anxiety can also simply cause you to have worse priorities than you would otherwise. For example, you may be so anxious that all you want to do is go to the doctor or stay home and watch TV instead of embark on some type of learning excursion.
  • Negative Thinking – Finally, anxiety causes negative thinking as a side effect of long term stress. People’s emotions become more negative in a way that you may not even realize – in a way that feels natural. Negative thinking has a strong impact on learning.

Anxiety is an overwhelming condition, and one that is often very physical. But it’s also much more than that. It’s an emotion and an experience that affects your mind in numerous ways, from shutting down some parts of your brain to taking over other parts. When you suffer from long term anxiety, you’re preventing lifelong learning.

Learning as a Treatment

What’s interesting, however, is that lifelong learning can also be an anxiety treatment. The more you engage in learning activities and try whatever you can to expand your own personal experiences, the more your mind can’t focus on anxiety and learns to be more optimistic. So while anxiety prevents learning, learning can prevent anxiety.

That’s why it’s not just about controlling anxiety. It’s also about making sure you’re making yourself learn at the same time. You need to stop your anxiety as best you can, but if you can also get yourself out there and use your mind on a daily basis, you can also help yourself control your anxiety in the future.

About the Author: Ryan Rivera tries to continue learning on a regular basis, formally and informally. He has a website about anxiety recovery at www.calmclinic.com.

Welcome to My Blog

4822377-the-words-lifelong-learning-on-a-chalkboard     Hello everybody. Life Well Learned is my new blog about promoting lifelong learning enabled and driven by technology supported by wellness. That’s a mouthful. Yes it might be but I believe that it’s important. Let me explain.

What’s lifelong learning to me?

According to Wikipedia, lifelong learning is the “ongoing, voluntary, and self-motivated” pursuit of knowledge for either personal or professional reasons. I like this definition, but it’s not what most people think lifelong learning is. My take is that lifelong learning is fundamentally an individual’s pursuit of knowledge and wisdom throughout one’s life. It’s a valuable and beneficial pursuit at any age, it’s not learning and activities for seniors as it is often described in our culture. It means what it says, learning throughout all of one’s life, and it’s ongoing, voluntary and self-motivated. It’s also about the belief that people can and should be learning all of the time as they go through their daily lives. It’s a philosophy, a mindset, and an approach to life and learning that anyone could and should have about intentionally always learning throughout one’s life, each and every day. It’s also about being open to new knowledge, information and insights. It could be learning about anything about life, self-improvement, wellness, education, technology, philosophy, history, politics, culture, cooking, business, people, science, languages, or anything that comes up and interests you. Learning is powerful, both the process and the results. The process brings benefits and power, the results brings knowledge and can bring wisdom to the individual.

How does lifelong learning compare to education, aren’t they the same? I believe that there are key differences, as they are really targeted for different kinds of audiences. My approach to lifelong learning is really about the pursuit of knowledge for the sake of knowledge itself, for the participation in the learning and discovering process, and for what it does for a person and how it makes one feel. Learning in the education system K-12 and through higher education is primarily aimed at preparing individuals to be adults and even more so to prepare them for careers or work. For some individuals, which I believe is a small percentage, the goals of both are similar but this is not the case for most people. The current mainstream description of lifelong learning is primarily about seniors. I don’t agree with this description, and prefer to use my description. In fact I want to change the mainstream thinking about it and I’m making this my cause to do so. I will also deal with the concept of lifelong learning as it applies to seniors in future posts.

The field of technology applied to lifelong learning is related to educational technology, or edtech, as almost all edtech can apply and be used for lifelong learning technology. Following the edtech industry will be important on this journey, as most developments in edtech will impact my area of interest. As an engineer by training, and technologist by profession, I strongly believe that technology (a topic for many future posts) is a powerful enabler and multiplier for lifelong learning and should be used to the fullest extent. Technology is powerful, creates new possibilities, allows people to do things that haven’t been possible before, but can also create issues and challenges that must be managed or avoided. Technology as applied to lifelong learning has a long way to go and I believe that we are still in the early stages of it’s development. There have been many technological developments in this area and there are many more innovations on the horizon that will provide new benefits and capabilities, facilitate new approaches, and enable many to accomplish things previously thought impossible. Technology impacts everyone’s lives and there’s much that we haven’t yet envisioned. Technology for lifelong learning will be a significant focus area of this blog based on my keen interests in it. Remember, technology has it’s positives and negatives as well and there are huge benefits from regularly getting away from technology; benefits to one’s overall mental and physical wellness. Going outdoors, exploring nature, exercising, meditating, focusing on relationships, socializing, reading, and even contemplating life should all have important places in one’s life. This is an important aspect of wellness as well!

I fundamentally believe that lifelong learning is an important, beneficial and powerful pursuit and that can affect one’s entire life and should be thought of in that way. One’s state of mind, physical well being, and spiritual beliefs can impact one’s desire, interest and experience related to learning. To get the most enjoyment and benefits from lifelong learning having body, mind and spiritual wellness is important, and in some ways can be considered a necessity in the pursuit of lifelong learning. Gratitude is also a part of it as I believe gratitude has a role in both wellness and learning. A part of lifelong learning is also about being grateful and giving back, helping others to learn, providing training and helping others in their learning journey; this is a topic for another post. Lifelong learning and wellness are beneficially linked, they have a positive correlation and impact each other. If one believes in and pursues lifelong learning one should also pursue body, mind and spiritual wellness.

Let’s focus on lifelong learning, technology and wellness. Let’s learn together, let’s advance the knowledge and thinking in it, let’s learn and work on our wellness as we do this. We will make it easier for lifelong learners to learn about and access knowledge and developments in these areas. I know that I’m going to learn much along the way. I also hope to contribute to discovery or creation of new developments, innovations, and technologies that can benefit everyone.

This blog is part of this adventure. Let’s take the journey together. I look forward to hearing from you.