“I do not know how I may seem to others, but to myself I am only a small child wandering upon the vast shores of knowledge, every now and then finding a small bright pebble to be contented with.”Plato
Do not be fooled by the title of this post! In no way am I suggesting that formal education is the only way to happiness. There are many paths that can lead to a happy destination in your life. Certainly, in some cases, a formal education is a wonderful way to reach your goals! Informal education is what I am suggesting.
Let’s think about it. There are a countless number of things YOU DON’T KNOW yet. There are an equally countless number of things that I DON’T KNOW yet, and that every person you walk by DOESN’T KNOW yet. Those things are different for every single individual born into this world. Until we have the luxury of Matrix-style plug-n-play learning modules, we are in charge of searching for and learning the things we don’t know.
If you are fortunate enough to live in a country that mandates education, guaranteeing availability to education through high school, then you have been exposed to a lot of topics and concepts by the time you are a young adult. While we are in school, our arranged “school system” tells us what we need to learn. This is formal education, and it is a wonderful system that will lay the ground-level knowledge to start considering what really strikes your fancy. If you have been in a position where you were able to continue on to college classes, you have probably limited your path of learning towards one or two subjects that truly interest you. All of this is exposure to the things you don’t know yet, and if you train yourself to strengthen your curiosity muscles and attack when you find something new to you, this will lead to an amazingly fulfilling life.
Curiosity is the spark that points you in the direction of what you should learn next. It is the essence of what makes us all human. In everyday life, you will often find yourself reading a magazine to pass the time waiting for an appointment, searching the internet to find a solution for an issue you are having at work, or reading a boring text book. If, in those mundane moments, even one sentence in that text makes you raise an eyebrow and think “Huh! I didn’t know that! That is interesting…”, your curiosity is alive and well! THAT is the spark. THAT is the spring board for a topic you should search online. Dive down that rabbit hole and don’t look back! Put books on hold at the local library to broaden your perspective on the topic. Bring it up around a group of people to see if anyone else has already picked up a bit of knowledge on the topic. See if there is a movie about the subject. Even when you are “finished” with your formal education, you need to continue to build connections in your mind about new topics. You get better and become more intelligent, and more interesting, by reacting to those sparks!
It is amazing to hear someone speak about a topic that is completely new. Curiosity is the spark that allows you to learn how to lay tile and flooring in your home, fix plumbing issues, invest money, effectively raise your children, write a book, tinker with websites and electronics, bake beautiful cakes or basic necessities like bread, etc… What do you want to know, try, or do? Act on a spark! Growing your intelligence by researching, asking, watching, taking lessons, and allowing yourself time to truly consider new topics, digging in… THIS is the true sense of becoming an educated person. This is how you grow and become more productive to society. Truly productive! Besides just being more knowledgeable, you will find you are more personable. Being more personable will open you up to more opportunities, making you more employable and probably increase your earning potential.
No one is too old, too young, or too “dumb” to learn new things. We are built for it and, if we allow ourselves the space and the time, there is nothing we cannot learn. Your mind is truly limitless! Use those sparks as guides so that you can become the best version of yourself!