One of the Five Ways to Wellbeing that I regularly endorse to my clients is to Keep Learning.
For myself this desire is often interwoven with my work but it’s impelled by enhancing my own wellbeing as well as becoming the best coach I can be.
Sometimes my learning is academic or theoretical because I know that for me increasing my knowledge leads to self-reflection which in turn makes me feel more connected to myself, the world and those around me. In coaching it can be the clincher for people trying to move forward in their lives; the wow moments when they come across new and important information that resonates for them in a powerful way, when they achieve flow for the first time in our dialogue or something falls perfectly in to place. As a coach, when empathy and intuition converge with delivering practical solutions the creative client will forge ahead in reaching their goals and ambitions. It can be nothing short of sublime.
Learning and trying new things or rediscovering old skills and hobbies is a simple and effective way that everyone can improve their wellbeing. We all heard stories of people who tried to learn a new language or take up a musical instrument when lockdown presented them with more time and energy – and we may have rolled our eyes – but the learning challenges don’t need to be big or intimidating. In fact there is much evidence to suggest that taking smaller more manageable steps towards a learning goal not only feels less effortful but is far more likely to have a long-term impact (on knowledge and wellbeing).
Signing up for a new course is a great idea but learning in the home can be more accessible and equally rewarding. How about learning a new recipe, making a resolution (in July) to learn a new sport or pastime, reading a book, listening to a podcast or watching a documentary? If your learning goal is to speak a new language, perhaps focus on learning a few new phrases each day. If you could do with honing your computer skills try a ‘little and often’ approach and repeat things until they are familiar or even habitual. On life skills, moving from being consciously incompetent to unconsciously competent can take years and many hours of practice to perfect.
The highlight of my learning journey during the past year was becoming certificated in The Science of Wellbeing through Yale. This riveting course, through which I learnt about the science and practice of happiness, shed new light on global misconceptions around wellbeing. It also educated me in what really makes people happy and required me to experiment with different ‘strategies for happiness’ in my own daily life. Perhaps my main takeaway, and there were many, was that simple acts of kindness and social connection undeniably bring us joy. On our life journey to improve our personal happiness and wellbeing the simplest approach might be to implement what I have learnt; engage in positive practices that enhance your social life, increase your random acts of kindness, spend more time with people who matter to you, connect with your community.
And always, Keep Learning!