Why a learning mentality is important
What are the thoughts that come to your mind when you hear the word learning?
To tell you the truth, I’ve always had an uneasy relationship with the word learning. Whenever I hear it, I tend to associate it with having to do something you are not interested in, almost like a chore.
But I doubt I am the only one who shares this uneasy association with learning.
When I look back, I can trace why I feel the way I do about learning, back to my school days. Right from the time I was a kid, the education system never made any sense to me. I would often wonder how the things I was learning in class could have any practical application in my life.
Perhaps because of this, I was surprised when it recently dawned on me that I actually love learning about new things.
While school is an environment created to stimulate learning, it somehow manages to suppress the limitless curiosity and the eagerness to learn that are present in all of us as children.
Learning new things can be an exciting and joyful activity, though that may have been seldom the case for many of us in school, which makes an enjoyable process almost lifeless and dull.
And as a result many of us naturally grow up to have an uneasy relationship towards learning.
However, embracing a learning mentality and cultivating curiosity are essential skills that can make our lives enriching and more fulfilling.
And especially since we learn very little practically applicable knowledge in our schools, it is all the more important to open our minds to seek useful knowledge whether it may come in the form of books, videos, documentaries, podcasts, TED Talks, etc.
There is much we can learn from reading about the lives, experiences and even mistakes of other people. As Eleanor Roosevelt wisely remarked, “Learn from the mistakes of others. You can't live long enough to make them all yourself.”'
Learning from life
Perhaps there is no greater teacher, than life itself.
There’s a lot we can learn from our own lives by spending a few minutes each day for contemplation or engaging in practices such as meditation and journaling.
Often life’s way of teaching us lessons is through our mistakes, setbacks, difficult relationships, or times which challenge us mentally.
As humans we tend to like familiarity and crave certainty in our lives. Hence for many of us, it takes a certain amount of pain and discomfort before we are willing to learn lessons and make changes in our lives. As Tony Robbins says, “Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.”
A crucial part of the learning process, however, is to adopt a positive approach to our mistakes. For many of us, our natural tendency when we make mistakes is to be hard on ourselves or to engage in self-pity.
Just as kids, stumble several times before they learn to walk, we must understand that it is natural to make mistakes since that is how we learn.
We can transform the mistakes and seemingly negatives experiences into blessings by approaching them with a learning mentality. Under such circumstances, here are few questions you can ask yourself,
What has this experience taught me? / What is this experience trying to teach me?
What qualities has this experience instilled in me?
How has this helped me grow ? / How is this helping me to grow?
What can I learn from my mistakes and regrets so I don’t repeat them again?
I encourage you to grab a book and a pen and take three mistakes/negative experiences you have gone through in your life, and write down the answers to the questions given above. You will find that there is always a lesson to learn or even blessings to be found from our negative experiences if we are willing to look at them deeply with an open mind.
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