Learning For The Health Of It!


Do you ever get the urge to shake things up? Not in any big, “make over your whole life” kind of way, but more as a craving to try something new?

That’s happened to me recently.

I’m a proponent of life-long learning of new things, ideas, skills, and approaches. Learning something new has often allowed me to challenge and develop my perspective and see things in fresh ways. It’s helped me be able to move though change, feed my innovative and creative spirit, and at times, even encouraged me to be a little more daring and open to opportunities. New challenges often force us to slow down and pay more attention; to focus on the moment in front of us. In short, it is an opportunity to be mindful and reflective in our approach.

New research indicates that picking up a challenging hobby or pursuing a new skill may keep your brain sharper. Learning something that is unfamiliar and challenging and that provides broad stimulation mentally and socially, are likely to improve cognitive functioning. It’s important to get out of your comfort zone to help maintain a healthy mind.

Learning new things has the potential to help us be healthier in many ways.  Gary Marcus, a cognitive psychologist and director of the New York University Center for Language And Music says:

As Aristotle realized, there is a difference between the pleasures of the moment (hedonia), and the satisfaction that comes from constantly developing and living one’s life to the fullest (eudaimonia). In recent years, scientists have finally begun to study eudaimonia. Research suggests that the greater sense of purpose and personal growth associated with eudaimonia correlates with lower cortisol levels, better immune function and more efficient sleep.

So, what new thing did I choose to pursue? I decided to spiff up my very rusty Grade 12 French, and enrolled online. I try to practice every day, from 10 – 30 minutes, sometimes more if I’m on a roll. At first I couldn’t believe how much I had forgotten, or didn’t know, but now, I look forward to the daily challenges.  The added bonus… it’s a lot of fun!

For more ideas on adding to your self-care plan, check out the Summer 2017 Healthiest You Update.