My husband and I are kind of obsessed with learning. We get a lot of enjoyment out of it! We dream of having a gorgeous office library someday, featuring a couple leather armchairs and filled with dark wood bookshelves from the floor to the ceiling. And we do have a pretty ample start to our collection – Bjorn has well over 500 books already and I’m working on catching up. 😉 If you stroll past our current smaller bookshelves in our guest bedroom, you’ll see books on everything from the Amish to World War I, colonial revival architecture to chain mail, psychology to a reference on Isaiah, parenting to photography, coin collecting to financial wisdom, aquarium fish to Christian living. We’re not stuck on just one topic, that’s for sure!
Needless to say, we’re pretty darn passionate about being lifelong learners in this household. Bjorn and I believe we ought to take advantage of all the possible learning opportunities in life. And we plan on raising our kids to be curious learners, too! We believe that God has given people the gift of learning and I think we can bring glory to Him by staying curious and striving to grow our minds however we can. (Plus, it’s SO good for your present and future mental health to be challenging yourself, thinking critically, and learning new things!)
Today I wanted to share some simple things that we do to stay lifelong learners. Which of these do you implement, too?
13 Easy Ways To Be a Lifelong Learner
Have THAGS time each day. “THAGS” is a concept in a book series Bjorn and I read a while back. I can’t remember what the acronym stands for exactly, but essentially, the main characters in the books are required by their mother to devote a certain amount of time each day to studying different subjects: poetry, drawing, writing, music, and so on. (It was kind of their way of doing homeschooling in their fictional world.) Bjorn and I like to use some time in the evening (some days more successfully than others) to focus on doing our own THAGS. Sometimes it’s blogging for me or time spent reading a fiction book, or a book on baby food making. 😉 For Bjorn, it’s more like reading about a Civil War battle, playing a strategic game with his friends, or reading about making a small town successful (lining up with his mayoral responsibilities). No matter what we focus on, doing our THAGS is a great way to be setting aside time to pursue some extra learning in our day! (It beats sitting in front of Netflix all evening long.)
Get rid of the embarrassed “I’m such a nerd” attitude. It makes me so sad when I hear elementary and middle school kids sheepishly downplay themselves by calling themselves a nerd…or when they imply that learning is dumb or needless or embarrassing to be a part of. Feeling like a “nerd” may be for the silliest of reasons (like donning glasses for school) but regardless, let’s fight against fostering an attitude of “learning is only for certain types of people.” Learning is for everyone! (Can you hear the teacher in me??)
Surround yourself with people who love to learn! There are so many ways to do this in our world today. Join a support/tips group on Facebook. Find friends who are interested in the same things you are – or are people who encourage you to learn about new things! I love that my friends harbor the same curiosity and love for learning that I do – so we can try new crafts together, explore new hobbies, read the same books, and recommend music to each other. And my husband, of course, has been my greatest supporter and encourager in gaining knowledge. After all, I AM married to a history teacher! I don’t go through a single day without learning something new from him. 🙂 And another bonus of surrounding yourself with curious people and learning together: you can often remind each other of what you learned about, or simply even share fond memories of a class or experience you had together!
Listen to podcasts on the topic. A free podcast is a great way to pursue lifelong learning in your life, and you can even do this while you’re running on the treadmill or while commuting to work in the morning!
Allow spontaneity. This one is easy. Pull over when you see a sign for an interesting experience. A new, unique restaurant? A local museum only open twice a month? A fascinating looking historic home or art gallery? Take advantage of that opportunity to learn and be curious!
Order books on topics you’re interested in. Reading is one of the best ways to learn new things – whether via paper books or audio books! Wandering Barnes & Noble is one of our favorite dates because there is so much to look at and learn about! Amazon offers wonderful prices on every book, too – and it makes it that much easier to learn about a new topic if you know you didn’t already commit a lot of money to it. 🙂 I like to order used books, unless I’m getting a gift for someone. Used books are often ridiculously cheap! You can sometimes get a book for a couple pennies – so you mostly end up paying for shipping!
Plan day trips and tours! Bjorn and I have done countless tours of museums and battlefields (I think he visited something like 42 historical sites while in Virginia for a summer of military training!). He’s also taken me on a surprise painting class date. We also love to learn about the Amish, which has led us to spend a Saturday over at an Amish auction in Minnesota. We’ve attended a couple beekeeping classes together, a community ed. stargazing class, and went to an alpaca expo back when we owned alpacas. We adore touring historic mansions – once, when we were in Kentucky for army training and Bjorn had the weekend off (and he let me plan the weekend), we fit 5 historic mansion tours into one weekend! It was incredible and a lot of fun! You won’t regret spending time learning about these things!
Attend a community ed. class! Bjorn has actually taught a few adult community education classes on the Civil War! Classes offered through your local library or school distract are often inexpensive, and sometimes even free! And like I mentioned above, we recently had a date night this winter where we attended a community ed. stargazing class. I get so giddy when the new community ed. booklet comes out a few times a year! I love flipping through the pages and circling the classes we may be interested in!
Peruse your local library’s “give away” shelves! Even the smallest library often has a cart of books that are either out of date or too well-worn to be in circulation. This is a great way to get a book for free – and you may even discover a new hobby while you sift through all of the available books!
RELATED READING: My 55 Favorite Must-Have Books For Your Child’s Library
Join a Facebook group. I’m in some Facebook groups that center around things like photography, Christian living, or blogging. I love how the atmosphere of these groups allows you to start and have discussions about certain topics, or to ask your silly questions! The photography group I’m in allows you to give and receive constructive criticism on your photos — a wonderful resource as we all continue to learn. And goodness, you could even start your own Facebook group as you begin to delve more and more into a particular hobby!
Watch YouTube videos on the topic. This is a free way to learn a bucketload of information! I have looked up countless videos to help me with my photography and other hobbies. For certain hobbies, I’ve found that it’s more helpful to watch a tutorial type video as opposed to reading a book on the topic.
Ask around to see who else enjoys that hobby. Who knows? Maybe you’ll discover that your neighbor is really into soap making and would love a helping hand when she makes a batch. Or perhaps your grandfather has a friend who is just aching for someone to talk stamp collecting with! When you ask around and even ask to shadow people, you never know who you’ll find – both as a fellow hobby enthusiast, and as a new friend! I’ve been mentored in photography before, as well as in other endeavors, and it’s so rewarding!
Follow blogs. Just type in any topic on Google followed by the word “blog,” and you’ll soon find many blogs written by people who are passionate about that topic! Bloggers work hard to put information (and their heart!) out there, so you can be an encouragement to them as you build relationships and learn from them! I love following blogs because not only are you gaining information, tips, or encouragement, but when you interact, you are also becoming part of a community or “tribe” of people!
Are you a lifelong learner? Do you want to be one? How do you cultivate knowledge and curiosity in your life??