Column: It’s never too late to start learning

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Commentary by Alicia Woodward

The majority of my first 25 years was spent in a classroom. I so loved being a student that I chose to spend my next 25 years as a teacher. In all that time, both in front of the teacher’s desk and behind it, there was never a day I didn’t learn something. I miss the daily focus on learning, but I am constantly reminded that the world is our classroom.

As a new year begins, I have strengthened my resolve to be a lifelong learner. Specifically, I have started a daily self-study of conversational French and the piano, both of which I was introduced to in my youth but did not practice as I should have. I do feel tres absurde banging away at Piano Classics for Children, however age should never be used as an excuse to stop learning. Michelangelo was 87 when he famously said, “I am still learning.”

Being a lifelong learner can benefit these six areas:

1. Quality of Life. Exploring something that brings us joy is time better spent than mindlessly watching television or scrolling through social media.

2. Self-Esteem. Nothing makes us feel better about ourselves than working hard, persevering and mastering something new.

3. Longevity.  Studies show an active mind can lead to a longer and healthier life.

4. Social Awareness. Learning expands our mind, our perspective and our understanding of the world, making us better citizens.

5. Career Opportunities. Employability, competiveness and leadership are often tied to our willingness to learn new skills.

6. Self-Sufficiency. Learning to do-it-yourself can have practical applications, as well as increasing independence and personal satisfaction.

So what are you going to learn this year? Maybe you will take a cooking class, attend a gardening workshop, study art history, take golf lessons or finish your degree. Think about what inspires you and commit to learning more about it. Remember Mahatma Ghandi’s wise words, “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”

Alicia Woodward lives in Carmel and is co-author of “Lessons in Loveliness: Learning to Live a Lovely Life” and a lifestyle blog at lessonsinloveliness.com, Facebook and Instagram. Email her at lessonsinloveliness@gmail.com.

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