Pursuing knowledge is the greatest aspiration, next to giving unconditional love. When people temporarily die and enter what they call “heaven,” they often report that curious angels ask them, “What have you learned?” And these temporarily “deceased” people are often invited to ask any question they desire. Sometimes people are at a loss for a question and later regret it. But almost all of them report that the answers they receive on the other side they cannot recall upon returning to their earthly bodies. Whether these near-death experience stories are true is not the point of this article. Instead, the point is that learning is necessary for growth. So, here are various ways to acquire knowledge:
Be curious. As babies, we are curious about everything. And everyone, deep down, truly loves to learn. But somewhere along the line, we can lose that passion for knowledge. It could be due to a critical teacher or parent, a learning disability, or a lack of study time. Or it could be many other pitfalls. But we are curious beings, and we all have the power to learn anything we desire. Curiosity is a joy!
Take classes. Even better, take advanced courses in an academic discipline that strikes our curiosity. Also, once we are in the workforce, continually take night classes to acquire career designations, as designations have significant implications for job performance and career advancement. Better still, take courses for the sheer fun of it.
Read. Read as much as we can about whatever topics fascinate us. A great way to discover new interests is to visit bookstores and explore random shelves. But most importantly, read a little every day. Learning is as essential to human growth as water is to flowers. And we are all truly flowers.
Get coaching. Talk to an expert or hire a coach online. Or tap into our professors’ and TAs’ knowledge. Or read biographies of people who’ve attained the status we wish to achieve. Or go onto YouTube, find our areas of interest, and tap into the endless expert knowledge.
Do research. Find a topic of interest and research it. Exciting software for storing and filing research articles and links is called bit.ai. I’m a big online whiteboard fan, and bit.ai has many whiteboard features, plus the ability to store URLs, create articles, and embed rich media. It has a free version with limited storage and a paid version at $8 US per month.
Join Meet Ups. Meet ups offer opportunities to discuss our area of interest with other enthusiasts. For example, I went to a society that aims to build a space station on the moon, complete with blueprints, and we had a lot of fun sharing ideas. So, whatever knowledge you wish to gain, it’s out there. If you can imagine it, chances are there’s a group researching it.
Find a solitary place to study. Libraries are the best places for isolating oneself. And the wealth of books and delicious silence within these rooms can generate ideas. I love studying alone in a home office or with another person also engaged in studies.
Interview people. We can learn so much by interviewing others. For example, I love reading stories about near-death experiences. These stories are qualitative research, as they are first-person accounts of lived experiences. When we interview multiple people on a topic, we can begin to isolate patterns and themes and even make conclusions or pose theories that we can test.
Listen carefully to others. Everybody has a wonderfully unique life story and view of the world. We can discover a new way of looking at life when we listen carefully to what others say. And no story is any less than another. They all represent different journeys on the quest for the same goal, which in my mind, is the achievement of knowledge and unconditional love.
Memorize things. Whenever we encounter a fact, memorize it. Use mnemonics or wild imagery to help retain the memory. When we learn as many facts as possible, we can more easily synthesize new knowledge. It’s like instantly knowing where the baking implements are in the home rather than stumbling around trying to find a whisk. Progress comes faster when we use the power of instant recall.
Observe the world. Imagine we’re famous authors who observe every detail of the world and put it into delightful words. Try it! Look around us to see if we can discover words for what we see. I tried it and didn’t know what to call the mounds of dirt-covered snow lining the street. And I didn’t know what to call the grates in the ground. Observing everything allows us to discover ideas that can profoundly change the world. For instance, just watching the reflections of a grid on a window while I moved side to side indicated that the Cartesian grid is not linear. Reflected objects disappeared, morphed, relocated to unexpected places, and did many strange things I couldn’t describe. When we are in motion, the still world moves, too, but none of this “movement” is linear or “rational.” It’s measurable and predictable to some extent, but nothing at all linear. If that all doesn’t make sense, that’s likely because I’m the first to declare this because of observation. There is so much in this world that is entirely observable that has not yet been transformed into theory. Observation can be a source of new knowledge.
Evaluate oneself constantly. Self-evaluation is critical to developing wisdom. And the best way to self-evaluate is to seek the ideal. While views on perfectionism and its flaws may make this seem futile, I disagree. Instead, seeking the ideal in everything we do is a means for rapid growth, especially when love is the benchmark of perfection.
Develop and test a theory. In academic graduate studies, we’ll need to study many theories, and we may be advised to select one or more theories (or a methodology instead) to base our thesis on. I’ve longed to create a theory. Unfortunately, many academic theories I encountered were based on a “victim” mindset, and some even perpetuated hatred of an oppressor. Any academic study that generates hate is not one to be pursued, in my opinion. Instead, I’d like to create theories seeking love and compassion for all. Aren’t love and happiness the actual signs of progress?
Take something apart and put it back together. Anyone who can do this is a hero, in my mind. Wouldn’t taking something apart for the first time and putting it back together be exciting? Indeed, there is a system on how to best do this. So, if we’ve never taken something apart and put it back together, it’s time to learn how.
Find our niches of interest and study them endlessly. For example, I read a book that said we each have many talents we are utterly unaware of. I once heard of a woman who thought she was talentless and decided to try art with extreme success. She rapidly became a top artist nationally, generating a means for quick wealth. We have many talents percolating in us that we still need to identify. That’s why exploring many topics and paying close attention to the ones that spark interest is essential. The topics that fascinate us could become our niches of interest–our specializations, talents, and passions. Once we discover our niches—and we all have plenty—study them nonstop.
Teach topics. Who is better suited as a purveyor of knowledge than a teacher? And to teach, we must first learn. I love the idea of teaching as it’s a way to share knowledge while generating revenue. We can make courses, teach a night class, write a book, or tutor online, benefiting others.
With lifelong learning, we never know on what tangents the knowledge will take us. One bit of new knowledge can open infinite doors. So, learn every day to unleash limitless opportunities. Each book, course, or other knowledge source is vital to fulfilling our dreams!