In the book The Unbound Soul, Richard Haight passes on advice about being a perpetual student, given to him by his Sensei (a teacher of martial arts).“In reality, there is always more to uncover and to understand. So I always try for an ever expanding 97 percent, leaving room to believe that 3 percent remains that I have yet to discover. Then I am eager to find that last 3 percent. And no matter how much my understanding grows, I have always another 3 percent left to discover, because as my understanding grows, so does the remaining 3 percent.” What this basically means is, always be looking for the opportunity to learn something new.
Learning something new brings in fresh energy and allows us to get to know ourselves a little better. (Just like the idea behind decluttering.)
Learning how to do something new, opens our minds to new possibilities, and new options that we may not have seen before. It helps us to get out of our comfort zone and teaches us to be vulnerable for a bit; to be willing to look a little silly.
We learn to see things from a different perspective. People do things in different ways. Just because you fold your laundry a certain way, doesn’t mean that’s how everyone does it. It doesn’t mean that everyone else is doing it wrong; it just means that it’s different. In trying to do something a different way, you may find an easier way to do it, or a way that you like better than how you’re doing things now.
When we learn something new, it gets us out of our own heads a little more. If we are consistently looking for ways to learn something new, we are looking at the things around us, rather than being stuck in our day to day routine.
It also helps with how we see others and the world around us.
When we learn how to do something new, we learn to appreciate those around us. We appreciate their contribution more because we see what it takes to do what they do. This is one of the reasons that I think everyone should have to work in food service and in retail at least once in their lives. When you stand in someone else’s shoes, even for a small time, it helps you to see what actually goes into doing their job, or living their life.
For this same reason, if you have someone who often does things for you, ask them to teach you how to do it. If we take the time to learn how to do something that someone else normally does for us – things like changing a tire, fixing something at our house, making dinner, or cleaning the paper jam from the printer – we develop a deeper appreciation for them doing it for us. We see more clearly, the time and hassle they are saving us.
Learning how to do something new teaches us not to look down on others for what they don’t know.
No one person knows how to do everything. Even if they do, they were new at one time or another, they had to learn. We’re all new at something at some point. Instead of judging people based on what we think they are doing wrong, why not come together and learn from each other based on our individual strengths and weaknesses.
If we acknowledge our weaknesses, and see that someone else is strong where we are weak, we can ask them for help. Then, what we view as a “weakness” can be just as much of an asset as a strength. First because, when we acknowledge that we have weaknesses, that we aren’t perfect, we show others that it’s ok to do so as well. Secondly, this give others the chance to use their strengths to help us, which can benefit them as much as it does us. Giving someone the opportunity to do something they are good at to help others, builds their confidence, and allows them to gain a blessing from the process. If we refuse to acknowledge our weaknesses, or to accept help, we take that opportunity away.
Learn something completely new, or learn how to do something in a new way.
Be openminded when you are learning; not just to the idea of learning something entirely new, but also to the idea of learning a new way of doing something that you already know how to do. Just like the example of folding laundry above: if we’ve been doing it the same way for years, be open to the idea of learning a new way. At work, if you’ve been doing the same thing, in the same way for a while, ask someone else how they would do it, and then learn their way. You may eventually go back to the old way of doing things, but at least you broke the routine up for a little while and challenged yourself.
How do we go about finding new things to learn?
Look around you and see what interests you. Do you like cooking? Try a new recipe, take a cooking class, or follow a video on YouTube. It doesn’t necessarily have to cost money and it doesn’t have to be anything elaborate.
When choosing something to learn, it doesn’t even have to be a major investment time wise. You don’t have to commit to going to a 6-week long class if you don’t have the time. Learn little things throughout your week. The other day we went to a Mexican restaurant and I asked the waiter how to say “Sweet Tea” in Spanish. It led to us getting to know him a little better, and made us all laugh as I learned how to say it. Doing this took me less than 10 minutes.
If I find a word that I’m not sure what it means, a business I’ve never heard of, or if someone tells me something that I want to learn more about, I Google it. I ask A LOT of questions, just ask anyone who knows me. I’m always curious about how things are done, why things are done, etc. It’s also interesting to hear people’s stories – how they got to where they are in life, why they chose the path they did. Most of the time, it never amounts to anything more than just me learning at that moment and then moving on; but occasionally it does.
One of the reasons that Brandon Farris inspires me so much is because he’s always trying something new; he’s always challenging himself. Whenever he sees something that he wants to learn, he tries it. There’s no rhyme or reason to the things he does, it’s a mixture of all of the things that he finds interesting.
We don’t always have to learn something and it mean that we have to make a major life change. Sometimes, we learn a skill, just for the sake of learning it.
Whatever sparks your interest, try it. It doesn’t have to be something that you can make money doing. It doesn’t even have to be something that you’ll do forever. Do it just for the fun of doing it. Even when we learn something just for the fun of learning it, we’re still getting all of the benefits listed above.
Just because you learn how to cook doesn’t mean that you always have to cook every meal. If you enjoy going out more, do so. Just because you learn all about gardening and canning, doesn’t mean that you have to become a farmer.
That being said, sometimes those things that feel completely random, give us clues about what we really want to be doing in life.
If we follow our passions, pay attention to the things around us, and keep an open mind about the possibilities, we never know what may come. We can follow the trail of seemingly random things that we enjoy doing, and find our dream life. This is especially true if we don’t really know where to begin in looking for it.
If it is something that you’re interested in, something that you’re drawn to, there’s a reason for it.
You may be surprised at how you use those skills that you learn. Or what comes from taking a class. It may not have anything to do with what you were there to learn originally. Something else may come up entirely. You may go to a knitting class and overhear someone talking about a new job opportunity that interests you. You could watch a video about how to fix your sink drain, like a picture in the background and get a gift idea for someone. Learning a new language could lead to traveling to another place, that you’ve never thought of going.
Either way, don’t over think it.
Don’t get hung up on whether or not what you’re learning will be of any benefit to you. Just learn, and have fun. The thing is, sometimes you won’t know if what you’re doing will benefit you until after you actually do it. So if you wait around until you know if it may benefit you or not, you will never do it, and you’ll never know. Move towards what interests you and let that be your guide.
Be careful not to apply all or nothing thinking to this either. What’s all or nothing thinking? It’s when we think we have to go all in or do nothing at all. For instance, you don’t have to become entirely fluent in a different language, or not learn any at all. Learn a few key phrases. This includes sign language. Just learn the alphabet. Or learn how to say, “Hi, how are you. My name is……”.
Know that it’s possible, when you try new things, for emotions and habits that need to be released to come up.
Sometimes, when we are learning something new, it brings up old habits, routine ways of thinking, and emotions, that are no longer benefiting us.
When I first had the opportunity to learn how to wakeboard, I was scared. I didn’t want to try it because I was afraid that I wouldn’t be good at it. I was afraid I would drown (even though I’m a good swimmer). I was afraid I would hurt myself (which is actually one of the more valid concerns….haha). I convinced myself to try it and I absolutely loved it. Every chance I had to go out and wakeboard, I did it. I never got that great at it, I never made any money doing it, it was just fun. BUT being in the water brought up a lot of old emotions for me, that being on land never had. It showed me several thought patterns that I had, that had really been holding me back from enjoying things over the years.
I’m not telling you this so that you’ll avoid doing anything new, to avoid the possibility of having to deal with what comes up. I’m telling you because I want to let you know just in case this happens. When we have times like this, that things start coming up to be released, we feel like we’re the only ones that it’s happening to. I want you to know that’s not true. It happens to everyone at some point. I also want to encourage you and let you know that those feelings and emotions won’t stick around forever.
Now that you know all of the details, here are some ideas to help get you started on the path to being a perpetual student. Learn:
1) to use your non-dominate hand
2) a different language
3) a new recipe
4) how to take better pictures
5) to be a better writer
6) how to remodel something in your house, fix a drain, etc.
7) how to fold your clothes a different way
8) a new exercise
9) how to stretch your muscles properly
10) how to load paper, or toner into your printer, or how to fix a jam
11) to play a musical instrument
12) how to change a tire
13) how to make tea
14) how to use a computer program that you don’t know how to use yet
15) how to use a new feature on your phone
16) how to meditate
17) how to see auras
18) how to hang a picture
19) how to sleep better
20) how to use chopsticks
21) how to make pottery
22) to do woodworking
23) when, how, and where to plant flowers and vegetables
24) to can vegetables or make your own jelly/jam
25) to play a new game
26) to drive a car with a manual transmission (a stick shift)
27) how to have a better marriage
28) how to be a better friend
29) how to decorate a cake
30) how to invest
31) how to make a mirror
32) how to reupholster a chair
33) how to make bath bombs, body wash, or lotion
34) how your favorite restaurant got its name
Inspired by Brandon Farris –
35) Learn how to throw cards
36) how to do origami
37) how to make balloon animals
38) Learn to paint from a Bob Ross tutorial
39) to crochet or knit
40) how to sew
Challenge yourself to learn new things, even if it scares you a little.
Even if you don’t think you can do it, especially if you don’t think you can do it, try it. Doing this gives us a chance to “skill up”.
“You have to skill up to handle life’s inevitable challenges, especially when you want more from life.” – Brendon Burchard
In learning how to do something new, we give ourselves the opportunity to gain confidence. As we’re learning, we may struggle at first, but, if we persevere, we eventually become proficient at it. We may even find that we possess abilities we weren’t aware we had. This process gives us more confidence to try something else. Each time we become proficient at something, we “skill up”. These skills, help us to live happier, healthier lives. They can help us when the “inevitable challenges” of life arise.
(This all came from a compilation of Brendon’s quote and a few of his podcasts.)
In the process of and after learning something new, give yourself and your brain time to rest and integrate.
This is especially true if, in the process of learning, you release things that no longer serve you. Going through a stage where you release a lot of “junk”, and replace old thought patterns with new ones, can be taxing mentally and physically. If you find yourself getting more tired and foggy after a period of learning new things, take time to rest. A few hours, or a few days; whatever your body needs.
And then….move on to the next new and exciting thing.