Going Back To School?
Our son left for college last week as a Sophomore, so we helped him move in his stuff. The building where his dorm is seems to be an upgrade from last year's. He seemed happy with his room, pleased with his roommates, and satisfied with his surroundings. Afterward, we gave him a hug and what felt like an awkward goodbye in the parking lot, wishing him the best for another new academic year. As parents, we're all hoping our kids will have a much more enriching learning experience this year.
I told my son I was extremely happy for him for all he'll be learning at school and all that's in store for him this year. He nodded as he listened. Then I mentioned just in passing that his Mom's also starting school! I wasn't kidding. I already bought all my school supplies and can't wait to continue learning my new material! I mentioned how when adults take the time to go back to school or continue learning on their own, -it's so inspiring! He agreed. He's seen me.
Mark Twain once said: "The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them." Nowadays, we have so many ways to learn with the Internet, podcasts, videos, audible books, library resources, etc. Anyone can gain an understanding of anything at any time, no matter how old they are. It's amazing the skills you can acquire in just a year! Sometimes just choosing to watch an hour less of Netflix a day, we can learn so much by reading, listening to a podcast, or taking an online class. You'll be amazed how you can improve a skill, speak another language, learn new recipes, get fit, glean from the greatest philosophers, learn how to start a new side business, read an extraordinary memoir, to name just a few.
To achieve our highest goals, it's not enough to just watch others on social media achieve theirs and live them out. It doesn't work like that. Each one can develop the gifts and goals we have on the inside and become the best version of ourselves.
Maya Angelou once wrote: "Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better." This is so true. When we invest time in learning, we develop and improve as a person; soon, everything around us will also be elevated. Our mindset renders better results. We have a better understanding of how others think. We are more mindful. We become better at being ourselves.
Aristotle said: "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." He was talking far more eloquently than we could about the value of repetition. Growth happens when we intentionally choose good habits and follow daily practices that define our everyday life. When we take that extra time to learn something new, improve our old mindsets, or try something challenging, we develop into a better version of ourselves.
Sometimes we get frustrated if we work hard at something, but the results are not the expected. We keep doing the same thing over again, expecting better results. The problem is not in the effort but in the strategy. If we learned a new technique, it would render a different have outcome. Seneca's saying rings so true today: "Not for school but for life we learn." What we learn as kids we'll use in life. What we become relatively competent in as adults enables us to have a better life and enjoy better outcomes.
Some think that when we get older, we can't learn new things. I disagree. I'm 50 and still learning. There is so much I still want to read about and do. You can teach an old dog new tricks. It just depends on the dog! -But seriously, I know some ladies got their degree after raising their kids! I love that learning, knowledge, and wisdom have no expiration date. Everything around us is in motion and changes so fast. So we really do ourselves a favor when we learn something new that helps us improve, be more open, and stay up to date.
In seventy years, they'll find our iPads and cellphones and wonder what these time capsules were. They might just guess they were tools we used for work, learning, and communicating. They'll chuckle at them as we did at the first computers. But I'm sure no matter what year it is, they'd recognize how strong the human virtue of acquiring knowledge and wisdom really is and how we strove to learn, to work, and communicate at any rate.
After all, our Grandparents and every generation before them used no calculators, had no computers, and certainly no cellphones. Yet they managed to learn great truths, invent amazing things and create the wonderful modern world we live in today. They faced so many challenges, wars, tragedies, and extreme situations. So if they still made it without our current technology, imagine what we can do today! Let's honor them by using what's available to continue our pursuit of knowledge, wisdom, and virtue, having an excellent work ethic that we can practice daily.
So are you going back to school this month? I hope you are in some kind of way! You may rediscover the joy of learning and be inspired to be a better version of yourself.
Have a great year!
Maria A. Mansfield, PRS
Life is Worth Getting Better,
Honoring Your Recovery
Tu vida merece que te mejores