Cultivate a Learning Mindset Part 1

by | Apr 11, 2022 | Personal Productivity | 0 comments

Curiosity is good for you

The physicist Albert Einstein reportedly once said: “Most people stop looking when they find the proverbial needle in the haystack. I would continue looking to see if there were other needles”. I’d probably also be looking to see what else might be in the haystack apart from needles! Who knows what could be there?? This approach represents the idea of lifelong learning which has been the focus of various studies for many years and is defined by having three key components: it’s ongoing, it’s voluntary and it’s self motivated. Furthermore, lifelong learning can apply equally to personal and professional domains.

In one fascinating study, over 2000 older adults aged 60-86 were studied over a five year period. Those who were more curious at the start of the study were also more likely to be alive at the end, regardless of their underlying health status. The reasons for this are less clear and one possibility is that declining curiosity is an outcome of declining health (for example Alzheimer’s Disease). Nevertheless, the result is enough to make us wonder why there may be a link between curiosity and longevity.

There are other likely benefits to our overall health and well-being from adopting a curious perspective and desiring to learn more. For example, learning new skills and stretching ourselves in ways that we haven’t previously done feeds the development of self-efficacy. We know that self-efficacy is an important element of the construct Psychological Capital which is a measure of the internal resources we have to be able to deal with the daily challenges that life throws at us. Learning can therefore form an important element of our capacity to effectively manage stress in our lives.

Having a learning mindset can also bolster social relationships, again from several angles. Firstly, if you cultivate a curiosity in yourself you are likely to want to learn more about the people with whom you socialise and interact. This openness in the relationship will foster connectedness and relationship growth which serves us well as we move through life. Secondly, seeking to learn something new is often way more fun when you do it with someone else, particularly someone who is significant to you in some way. If you decided to learn to prepare and cook Thai cuisine, or learn to dance, or learn another language, or learn to sail or fly or skydive or even learn how to build your own house, do you imagine it would be more fun to do it alone or with someone who is significant to you?

And, the 2015 Gallup World Happiness Poll, found that the likelihood of learning or doing something interesting correlated positively with happiness in adults, even more so in men.

So, in summary, there are a lot of good reasons why adopting a curious mindset and seeking to engage in lifelong learning is good for you!

Stay tuned for Part II next month!