LEARNING LATER, LIVING GREATER:
The Secret for Making the Most of Your After-50 Years.
Lifelong Learning in Your Later Years…
A Health Club for Your Mind, Body, and Spirit!
Over the past weeks we’ve taken a look at the new brain research showing how lifelong learning is key to keeping your brain cells thriving. We’ve also explored the Mind/Body connection and the role later-life learning plays in that delicate balance. Now, let’s discuss the special aspects of lifelong learning in the “After-50” years.
Everyone is, to some extent, a lifelong learner. There really is no such thing as a non-learner. The neighbor next door and the person down the street are lifelong learners. After all, lifelong learning is much more than the acquisition of knowledge. It really is the daily absorption of all that goes on around us.
Informal lifelong learning begins at birth and continues throughout a person's life. It broadly encompasses learning to live within society and how to navigate our way through the intricacies of life. Informal learning often arises as we pass through different stages in our lives such as starting a career or business, becoming a parent or dealing with a death in the family. Informal lifelong learning can be planned or unplanned, stemming from needs that arise out of our everyday life and experiences.
For the purposes of this blog, however, which is focused on more formal ways of lifelong learning for older adults, we can say the following. “After-50” lifelong learners are enthusiastic, ready, willing and able, and empowered when it comes to their own learning. They are inquisitive about anything new or puzzling; they ask questions, ponder, discuss with friends and family, and often go off and read and write about it.
They are also not afraid to make mistakes. Lifelong learners are willing to go outside their comfort zone, taking calculated risks in their quest for knowledge. They deliberately seek out new opportunities for learning in any setting. They view everything that happens - both the good and the bad - as chances for learning.
Lifelong learners take full responsibility for their learning, doing whatever is necessary to create an atmosphere that is conducive to learning. They are not content to sit back and wait for the learning to come to them. They go out and do what has to be done to make it happen. They are self-starters.
Lifelong learners understand that there is no one right way to learn and they want to expose themselves to every variance and nuance of learning. They often encourage others to join them. They are always spreading the word about their programs. They see later-life learning, not only as an altruistic act, but also as a way to engage in reciprocal learning by developing a learning community of like-minded individuals.
It’s been said that people who are lifelong learners are more tolerant, more stimulated in their lives and more upbeat. Along with that, having special interests really stretches a person. Their life takes on an added dimension and often brings a different perspective to a particular viewpoint. It’s been said that lifelong learning can save your life. Stories abound about how people have been able to get on with their lives after life-changing events because they are involved in later-life learning.
They understand that learning is a process, capable of improvement, and they are continually striving to raise the bar. They know that anything worthwhile takes time and effort. The end result however - one they fully understand - is that learning is a critically important undertaking. Doing so will lead to a life of fulfillment.
Lifelong learning can also help people strive to reach their goals and can open doors to new thoughts and social interactions. It can increase your sense of self-worth and fulfill the human desire to discover and understand. There is no doubt lifelong learning is a valuable tool in life-fulfillment.
Next week we’ll discuss the recognition and validation of later-life learning.
THURSDAY’S THOUGHT…Karl von Bonstetten, a Swiss writer has said, “To resist the frigidity of old age one must combine the body, the mind and the heart – and to keep them in parallel vigor one must exercise, study and love.” Perfect words that show how building lifelong learning into our later years can pay big dividends for us.
For more information on Learning Later, Living Greater visit www.learninglater.com
You can purchase Learning Later, Living Greater at www.amazon.com
Till Next Time…
Nancy Merz Nordstrom is Director of the Lifelong Learning Department at Computer School for Seniors (www.cs4seniors.com)