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Spring into Something New!

by Heather Martin, VPG Contributor


My favorite aunt was a force of nature and a joy to be around. One of my most treasured things about her was her zest for learning. She was constantly on a quest for more knowledge. At the time of her death at 53, she was taking auto mechanic classes. Why? Well, she’d always wanted to learn how cars worked. My father, another lifetime scholar, often quoted Socrates: “When you want wisdom and insight as badly as you want to breathe, it is then you shall have it,” and I think it’s time we all took this to heart.


daffodils

I think most people think that we leave learning behind after we leave formal schooling, whether that be high school, college, or graduate school. We’ve learned all we need to know to get us through life on our chosen path, and we’re done. But continuing our education throughout life, and especially learning something brand new, is vital, not only for personal growth and happiness but also for our health, both mental and physical.


Dennis Buttimer, a life and wellness coach, said, “Learning is great for your brain at every age. As you take on a new skill, the mind begins to reshape itself because the physical brain is malleable.” (The Mind Body) As we learn new skills, we can literally create neural pathways and keep older ones active, keeping our brains healthy. But it’s not just the physical part of the brain; learning new things can help our mental health. Buttimer said, “As you develop a new skill, you’ll gain courage and confidence, which helps you override fear and anxiety.” (The Mind Body) Additionally, setting a goal for yourself to learn a new skill and then completing that task will create confidence in your abilities.


There are even social benefits from constant learning. Learning a new skill can help us increase how those in our current social circles positively view us and help us find new ones. (10 Reasons to Learn) You may be able to help others with your newly learned skills, or you can make new friends by learning a new language. “Often learning is a social activity” (10 Reasons to Learn), and in this ever-increasing world of online connections, meeting in person with people is an elusive treat.


So, this spring, when nature is blossoming anew, regenerate yourself. Find a new hobby, a new physical activity, or learn a language. Do something that gets your mind engaged and forge new pathways, both neural and friendships. I myself am going to take a page from that same favorite aunt, who, in her 40s, took up painting and became quite the artist! I might not achieve her success, but I hope to produce at least a passable watercolor this summer. Happy learning!


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