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When You Stop Learning, You Start Dying

A photo of Albert Einsten with the quote "once you stop learning you start dying" above it

I heard this quote by Albert Einstein the other day and it stopped me in my tracks. It’s a statement that is often used to convey the idea that personal or intellectual growth is essential for a fulfilling and meaningful life. It suggests that when individuals cease to learn, develop new skills, pursue goals, or challenge themselves, their lives become stagnant, leading to a sense of dissatisfaction or decline.

Biologically it’s incorrect, of course, but it’s an interesting one to think about isn’t it? I’m always waxing lyrical about the importance of a growth mindset and about pushing yourself out of your comfort zone because that is where the learning takes place, but in reality, it isn’t easy and it’s often a constant battle to remind ourselves to do it.

Challenging Myself and Learning New Things this Week

Today I held a card making workshop at Heathlands Residential Home in Pershore. I’m going to say it, I have limited experience of working with elderly clients and it scared me. I spent a long time thinking about it and planning it beforehand. Now that I’ve done it, I’ve already reflected on it and feel I’d like to revisit and try different things to improve upon the whole experience. If I hadn’t been open to the experience though, then none of that valuable learning would have taken place. How often have you tried to get hold of someone to do a job or help you out with something and you can’t pin them down? I sometimes wonder if some of the reason isn’t lethargy or being too busy, but actually fear of the unknown or of getting it wrong. How frustrating is it though when you’re the one trying to get the job done?

Our Aging Population

I suppose moving into residential home is a great analogy for this because a lot of us do think if/when it happens to us that it’s the beginning of the end, hence we fear it so much. But in reality, isn’t it just really another phase of your life? Working with people in advanced stages of dementia did make me feel sad today, as well as a little fearful, but I still looked for and found snippets of who they are, what pains them, what makes them smile, what interests them, and in one case a fragment of a creative career which was still all there ticking along in the background. Who am I to assume that a life being cared for is less of a life?

The Velvet Rut

It’s very easy to get comfortable. To build up your life exactly how you want it to be. To minimize inconveniences and leave the stuff you don’t like to do. To stick with what you enjoy, where you enjoy it, and never deviate. I’ve heard it referred to as the velvet rut because it’s a nice and comfortable place to be, it keeps you ‘busy’ and so you can’t always see that you’re stuck in it. In fact, a couple of ladies today did tell me at first that they were too ‘busy’ to participate in the craft activity. If, therefore, we see it in others then isn’t it also our duty to help them out of that and gently nudge them towards a direction where they can flourish? Is the zone of discomfort sometimes a good place for all of us to be together?

A figure staring at the mountains with the phrase "the adventure of life is to learn. The purpose of life is to grow. The nature of life is to change."

How many times have you tried something and thought afterwards, “wow, I didn’t expect to be able to pull that off”? If you’re like me, this happens nearly all the time because I never truly back myself to succeed. That is actually a pretty sad statement to make, but if I can take one crumb of comfort from it, it does mean that I find myself constantly exceeding my expectations which is far better than never doing so! It needs to be done though because if you don’t test yourself from time to time to discover what you are capable of then how can ever expect to fulfil your potential?

Be honest with yourself, is there something that you’ve been putting off because it scares you? Why don’t you take on that challenge today? What have you actually got to lose?

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