“If you learn something new every day, you can teach something new every day.” — Martha Stewart
Curiosity is a common trait among high achievers, entrepreneurs and innovators. They seem to possess a natural quality allowing them to always learn more. Whether it’s through their work, their personal lives or pushing the boundaries around them, they’re good at harnessing that new knowledge (or at least the desire to know more) and using it to their advantage.
You can do the same thing, too. Learning something new every day doesn’t require taking a class or even committing copious amounts of time. All it takes is the willingness to let the world teach you something new.
Learning comes in many different forms, and is probably already part of your daily life, even if you aren’t taking advantage of it.
In a lot of ways, learning is the practice of being mindful. Allowing yourself to simply be open to it is the most important part. Don’t get too in your head about it. Learning something new every day comes in many different forms. You just have to look for it.
1. Ask questions
It’s easy to keep your head down and get through the day, but it probably won’t help you learn much. All aspects of your life can benefit from asking questions. You may gain a new perspective at work, learn more about your friends and family leading you to deeper connections or even improve (seemingly) mundane parts of your day, like cooking dinner or taking a new route on your commute.
Asking questions of the people around you, of yourself, and, yes, Google, is the easiest – and sometimes most challenging – way to learn something new.
First, you must get in the mindset of asking questions. Getting to that place means overcoming a fear of looking dumb, which is most often irrational anyway. Your questions might prompt deeper thought in others, too.
Asking open-ended questions is a great way to start. When asked a “yes” or “no” question people tend to only go that far in their response, but if you ask them to explain a topic, talk about their feelings or describe a scenario, you’re able to pull more from them. You’ll learn more because you’ve created a dialogue — which is how great stories are born.
We’re often taught that asking questions can be rude, but it can be enlightening and so beneficial if you’re genuinely curious. Look for a few opportunities throughout the day where you can ask “why?” or “how?” and you might be surprised at what you learn.
2. Read more
It’s no secret that books are among the ultimate teachers. Whatever your interest, style or level of commitment is, there’s some reading available.
Reading can actually affect connectivity in the brain, proof that it’s making you smarter. A study at Emory University found that reading seems to cause physical change in the brain, so we can see the difference the practice makes.
“The neural changes that we found associated with physical sensation and movement systems suggest that reading a novel can transport you into the body of the protagonist,” said neuroscientist Gregory Berns. “We already knew that good stories can put you in someone else’s shoes in a figurative sense. Now we’re seeing that something may also be happening biologically.”
This means that even if your reading isn’t the traditional education material, you’re still gaining knowledge. Your brain is helping you see other points of view, analyze different situations and so much more.
Reading as a means of learning something new everyday comes with endorsements from some really successful people. For tech entrepreneur icon Bill Gates, it’s reading that helps him sharp.
"It is one of the chief ways that I learn and has been since I was a kid. These days, I also visit interesting places, meet with scientists and watch a lot of lectures online. But reading is still the main way I learn new things and test my understanding,” he told the New York Times in an interview.
3. Write in a journal
There are tons of ways journaling can be beneficial. The practice has been proven to help lower stress, elevate feelings of gratitude and even help with sleep. Journaling is a powerful way to help make sense of the world around us, so it’s only natural that it’s also an avenue for learning something new.
Whether your journaling ritual is to investigate your feelings, reflect on the day or for creative endeavors, look for ways to invite curiosity into your entries. Search for details that you wouldn’t otherwise normally notice or ask yourself “what if” questions. Doing so may invite interesting responses and push you to learn something new.
Learning is what you make it. It doesn’t always have to be a fun fact that’ll help you win trivia night, learning more about yourself is as valid a practice.
4. Travel (even in your own backyard)
Visiting a new place comes with lots of new experiences that can teach you a lot about the world. Think about when you step off a plane in a new place and you instantly realize what’s different about the weather or you start to wonder about what daily life is like in this new location.
Everything is new and your senses are heightened! Sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming, but it can also be a gateway into learning some pretty incredible things. Keeping a traveling journal can help you sort all of your new experiences so that you can remember the details.
When far-off destinations aren’t a reality, you can still travel in your daily life. A walk through your neighborhood, visiting the next town or even taking a different route to the grocery store can be enough of a switch-up to help you learn something new.
Whenever you can add new experiences to your life, you learn something. All you have to do is be open to what’s in front of you.