Last year, as I was planning for this new phase in my life, I made a list of things I wanted to do, activities I wanted to try. One item that soon made its way to the top of the list was “education, classes, workshops.”
Ever since college, I’ve had a real love of learning.
While in school, buried in term papers and projects, I promised myself that one day I would take classes just for the sheer joy of learning about things that I was interested in, with no worry about grades or papers.
Over the years, I’ve taken a class here and there, which only served to wet my appetite.
Well, a couple of days ago, I finally got to fulfill that promise — at least as a start. I had the pleasure of attending a One Day University program sponsored by The Los Angeles Times. It was a full-day program, with topics ranging from Abraham Lincoln to the psychology of happiness or how films have changed America. The program featured visiting professors from Rutgers, Amherst, Brown and Yale. Impressive, huh? They were all well-known, highly-regarded experts in each of their subject areas, and favorites on their respective campuses. And they were passionate, energetic and extremely engaging in their presentations.
What a day. It was exhilarating.
I learned more than I had anticipated, but the best part of the day was how stimulated my friend and I felt afterwards. We were high on learning after the 6-hour day.
When I got home, I did a little research, and found that the joy, exhilaration and energy we felt was nothing unique. Seems we’d experienced what researchers who have studied lifelong learning habits of older people have found to be consistent with the endorphins we feel after a good bout of physical exertion.
I read further that our capacity to learn and grow does not decrease as our years increase, and, as we continue learning new things, we also learn to understand ourselves better.
In a nutshell, the research says that as we try learning new subjects, or challenging ourselves with different hobbies, crafts or projects, we’re actually expanding our awareness and stimulating the birth of new neurons which contribute to brain health and memory.
Sounds good to me! How about you?
For those of us 50 and better, we have so much to share, and yet, still so much is out there for us to learn, too.
What we’ve learned in life can be translated into real value for the betterment of society. Our wisdom and insight – it’s all of tangible benefit to the world around us.
So let’s keep learning . . . and sharing what we know.
This big old world needs our experience, our wisdom, our curiosity, openness and creativity now more than ever.
As we were leaving the One Day University event, my friend summed up the day perfectly. She said “I feel filled up.”
Love that . . . and me, too!
Have you tried anything new lately? Taken a class? Tried a new hobby or sport?
If you’re interested in a more academic adventure, here are a few resources you might consider:
- Udemy – Udemy.com – offers a variety of online classes including academic subjects (art history is my fave), business, technology and personal development. All from the comfort of your own home.
- Local community colleges or Emeritus programs at most universities
- OSHER Lifelong Learning Institute at many universities (often as part of their Emeritus programming)
- One Day University – onedayu.com
Till next time,