Essential Principles, Practices and Panaceas, A – Z: Lifelong Learning

lifelong learning haiku

There is no end to education. It is not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning. Jiddu Krishnamurti

I’m a big fan of lifelong learning, and not just because I have a PGCE in the sector. I’m convinced that a desire to learn has contributed to me overcoming seemingly insurmountable challenges and developing as a person; lifelong learning has considerably enriched my life.

Jeff Cobb has outlined 5 key benefits of lifelong learning:

  1. Economic: the saying is that the more you learn, the more you earn.
  2. Intellectual: not exclusively academic; for example, creativity is nourished.
  3. Cognitive: keeping the brain stimulated is said to ward off senility.
  4. Social: brings us into contact with others; social connections have been shown to increase not only our happiness, but also our lifespan.
  5. Spiritual: as in nurturing the spirit, increasing zest for life.

I’ve discovered Jeff’s findings to be true. Willingness to learn has opened my mind to the extent that I am inexhaustibly curious about our world and its inhabitants, attesting to Philo of Alexandria’s axiom that: Learning is by nature curiosity. I can honestly say that I’m never bored.

Where are you on the disinterested – engaged with life spectrum?

Henry Ford said that: Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. It could be argued I’m living proof that; people tell me I don’t look my age, and I’m sure it’s as much to do with an interest in the world as it is good genes. Fascination with life keeps my spirits up and my outlook cheerful.

Is your attitude to life one of apathy or playfulness?

I have to acknowledge that I have learned the most from my mistakes; I could be said to embody Richard Bach’s assertion that: There are no mistakes. The events we bring upon ourselves, no matter how unpleasant, are necessary in order to learn what we need to learn; whatever steps we take, they’re necessary to reach the places we’ve chosen to go. Would I have undergone the essential personal transformation I have were it not for my gargantuan mistake? I doubt it would have happened in the way it did; there was only one way to make sense of my experience, and that was to learn – fast.

What have you learned from your slip-ups?

Walt Whitman asked: Have you learned the lessons only of those who admired you, and were tender with you, and stood aside for you? Have you not learned great lessons from those who braced themselves against you and disputed passage with you? I can’t deny that the person whose actions led to my steepest, and most influential, learning curve was the perpetrator of violence against me. Having said that, there have been caring human beings without whose teaching I would not be in the position I am today.

Who have you learned the most from?

A hunger for learning, including learning what I am passionate about, has enabled me to make the most of my abilities. I sometimes wonder how my life would have turned out had I not blundered in the ways I have; would I still be trapped in the thorny, ensnaring briar of the immature ego? I’m not entirely sure I’d choose to endure such heartbreak to attain my hard-won wisdom, although I wouldn’t be anyone other than who I now am.

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross sums it up well: Learning lessons is a little like reaching maturity. You’re not suddenly more happy, wealthy, or powerful, but you understand the world around you better, and you’re at peace with yourself. Learning life’s lessons is not about making your life perfect, but about seeing life as it was meant to be

Learning from my experiences has given me insight and helped me to find meaning in my life. It has made me resilient; I’m able to remain calm in a crisis and face life head on, no matter what.

Lifelong learning has improved the quality of my life and my life satisfaction.

I concur with Louise Hay’s opinion that: The gateways to wisdom and learning are always open, and more and more I am choosing to walk through them. Barriers, blocks, obstacles, and problems are personal teachers giving me the opportunity to move out of the past and into the Totality of Possibilities.

When I do this, possibilities do appear unlimited; it’s a fortunate place to be. Care to join me?

Essential Principles, Practices and Panaceas, A – Z: Creativity

creativity haiku

But unless we are creators we are not fully alive. What do I mean by creators? Not only artists, whose acts of creation are the obvious ones of working with paint of clay or words. Creativity is a way of living life, no matter our vocation or how we earn our living. Creativity is not limited to the arts, or having some kind of important career. Madeleine L’Engle

Many is the time I’ve heard someone say ‘I’m not the least bit creative’. My response is ‘Bunkum!’ Folk may not care to admit it to themselves but everybody is creative to some degree or another. We can’t all be Mailer, Michelangelo or Mozart, however we can decide that we are going to let our own unique creative force find expression, whether that be through cooking, dancing, singing, gardening… Any activity, performed in the right spirit, can be carried out creatively.

The idea flow from the human spirit is absolutely unlimited. All you have to do is tap into that well. I don’t like to use the word efficiency. It’s creativity. It’s a belief that every person counts. Jack Welch. And there’s the rub – believing that you matter.

Of course you count; without your presence the world is missing a thread of its tapestry. You are unique, a one-off, never to be repeated; your life is an ongoing creation. Your life is a story – be that a soap-opera style melodrama, full of histrionics and repetitive cycles, or a heroic tale of growth, following a narrative arc that leads to fulfilment of potential. Are you creating your life from your constricted, uninspired ego, or from your expansive, imaginative essence?

Beatrix Potter said that she was glad she wasn’t sent to school as it would have robbed her of some of her originality. If you have never watched young children at play, Channel 4’s series, The Secret Life of 4, 5 and 6 Year Olds, shows how resourceful and inventive children can be; they create spontaneously and joyfully. How different, I wonder, could the future be if, as well as being instructed in the three ‘Rs’ and tested to the limits of their endurance, children’s fertile imaginations were nourished and they were encouraged to develop their creativity all the way through school?

Would an individual whose creative impulses have been nurtured grow up needing to use their energy to destroy? Does a person whose essence is smothered inside an ego entangled in barbed wire believe that they count?

Our power can be used to both creative and destructive ends; think of some of the experiences you have had in your life – would you say they came about as a result of productive or malign influences?

The perpetrator of violence against me was clearly motivated by an impulse to cause devastation. The paradox is that his annihilation of my existence as I knew it (ego) brought about the conditions for me to shape my life anew (start living from my essence). In this way it could be said that the seemingly negative experiences we have foster creativity in our lives; making mistakes, then, incites us to innovate.

Osho says that to be creative it is necessary to reverse our conditioning; In order to build my new and improved life I certainly had to abandon the beliefs that made me an easy target for a dangerous, abusive man.

Somewhere on my personal and spiritual development odyssey I came across this saying: Creation heals destruction. Engaging in creative pursuits has been instrumental in my recovery from trauma – from creative writing to collaging to cooking – and more besides. I strive to embody creativity in everything I do, proving Deepak Chopra’s adage: What keeps life fascinating is the constant creativity of the soul.

Are you delighted by life? You can be, if that’s what you desire.