How people measure their happiness and what it takes for them to feel content is different for every person. There is, however, one common ingredient for a happy, satisfying life, and it’s called ‘lifelong learning’. So what’s this buzzword all about?
Learning for Life
Lifelong learning is the self-motivated pursuit of ongoing education. It’s driven by a desire for self-development through the gaining of knowledge and new skills in either a formal or informal environment. It can take on various forms of education, such as learning to play a musical instrument, attaining a personal training qualification, mastering the art of graphic design, or even just taking a tour of the local museum.
What are the Benefits?
As well as boosting individual happiness, lifelong learning has other social and health benefits. For instance, it can delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, reduce our dependency on social security, and help to maintain our connection with the wider community – something which is of particular benefit to seniors.
How Does it Make us Happy?
Lifelong learning must be challenging enough to test our ability. It’s this challenge that we’re so attracted to, and it’s conquering the challenge – like learning a new language – that gives us a sense of fulfilment and achievement.
How Does it Make us Smarter?
For seniors in particular, lifelong learning is as crucial for mental dexterity as it is for emotional health. Much like the way our bodies respond to exercise, our brains also operate on the philosophy of use it, or lose it – so dig up that old Sudoku book and start scribbling!
It Can Boost Our Earnings
A 2013 Career Advisory Board survey revealed that only 15 percent of hiring managers said job seekers had the skills and traits their companies were looking for. A commitment to lifelong learning, self-development and upgrading your skills therefore make you a highly competitive contender in the job market. People who pursue formal education after school also have a considerable financial advantage over their lifetime as a result of landing higher paid jobs.
It Doesn’t Just Happen in the Classroom!
Lifelong learning doesn’t always culminate in a formal qualification, though. Reading the newspaper, attending a public forum and taking a martial arts class are just a few examples of ways you can exercise your mind in an informal setting. Your approach is determined by your motivation, but whatever that is, the outcome is the same: a happier, healthier and longer life!
With the advent of the internet and public Wi-Fi, lifelong learning has never been easier and more accessible. For free lifelong community-based learning opportunities, call your local council and find out about Wi-Fi hotspots and library courses. For anyone after a flexible, skills-based course to work around job and family commitments, enquire about courses at an online learning specialist like Open Colleges, so you can study when and where it suits you.
Empower yourself, take a second chance and kick-start your lifelong learning adventure today by taking photography lessons, life drawing classes, gaining an accounting certification, or undertaking an animal care course. The options for a more rewarding and happy existence through lifelong learning are endless!
Kristy is a writer and blogger who writes regularly for Open Colleges on careers, education and current affairs. She is passionate about education, careers and speaking to the web’s experts on matters of interest to her audience.