In my previous blog post, I wrote about how productivity helps me with my happiness.
This post is about how learning new things help with my mental well-being.
Among other unusual things, learning is something that gives me happiness.
One of the big mistakes we commit during adulting is to stop learning once we leave school or university.
It is never too late to learn.
All our lives, we signed up for involuntary learning. Be it schools or colleges. And we ended up hating the process of learning. But once you discover voluntary learning, it can be so much fun.
How I learn
“Research your own experience. Absorb what is useful, reject what is useless, add what is essentially your own.”Bruce Lee
I have taken these words to heart. I am a big proponent of DIY (Do It Yourself). Doing my research and reaching my conclusion gives me a sense of satisfaction.
Research your own experience
The Internet is one of the greatest inventions in the 20th century. You don’t need a school for education.
Information is abundant in the form of videos and blog posts.
When I set out to learn something, I do my research – be it a new diet, a new workout routine, or building your startup.
Absorb what is useful, Reject what is useless, Add what is your own
The latter talks about high-performance athletes switching to a vegan diet for improved recovery and performance.
The following days I spend more time researching the connection between meat, protein, cancer, etc. Although I am not 100 percent convinced that a vegan diet has magical health benefits as shown in the documentaries, I understand the environmental aspects of it.
Also, there are a few things that the opposing camps agree. For example, the consumption of processed meat is detrimental. Probably worse than smoking cigarettes.
I have reduced my meat consumption. Do I plan to give it up completely? Probably not.
Most of the things in life are like that. There is no cookie-cutter template. Do your research, make your decision. Own it.
How I choose topics to learn
I wrote about the importance of setting goals in my previous blog posts. Choosing topics to learn is aligned with my goals. Based on where I want to go in my life and what is happening in my life, I would choose the topic to learn.
A few months ago, Oyster acquired Carrom.
I switched my career from software engineering to product management. I have been learning product management for the past few months.
Last year, I spent a lot of time learning the basics of photography.
My approach to learning
I try to spend around an hour a day learning a specific topic. Sometimes, this takes longer. Sometimes shorter.
If the topic is of great interest, I learn less and spend more time thinking about what I learned. When learning, it is ok to do less, but try to do it well.
I also try to write down the thoughts for clarity.
Most of the learning materials are free content from the web. My sources include youtube videos, blog posts, etc.
Not taking notes was one of my mistakes while learning.
I used to bookmark articles I would find interesting, read them when I am free, and forget about that. Learning does not work that way.
It’s not a passive thing, but something you have to be intentional about.
Taking notes helps with
- Being mindful about what you are learning
- Connecting the important points
I use two screens while learning. One for consuming content, and one for writing down my thoughts. I use Notion to take notes.
Keep a separate space for learning.
My work desk is my temple. Mentally I get into productivity mode when I sit in front of my desk and put on the headphones. It could be a placebo effect, but it works every time.
Why you should start learning too
When you learn, there is no instant gratification.
The small efforts you make, might not have an impact on your daily life.
Learning is a perpetual process. It’s hard to measure the short term returns from learning. The growth compounds over time and you get the returns in bulk.
It is not linear. The point is to derive happiness and satisfaction from the fact that you are better than yesterday.
If you get one percent better each day for one year, you’ll end up thirty-seven times better by the time you’re done.