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How Lifelong Learning Is the Real Fountain of Youth

By Paula Harer April 27, 2018 Lifestyle

I was not the best student when I was young. I think I just didn’t feel that I had time when there was so much other interesting stuff going on!

Of course, I now see things differently, and I often wish that I had buckled down a little more in school. I did, however, like to work, so that was kind of where I found myself. I was way more into a job than I had been as a student.

Now that I am in my 60s, I think I have found one key to the fountain of youth: learning. I love learning. Maybe it’s because I kind of missed it the first go ’round. I don’t know, but I am usually game for any class or tutorial. I just love it, and I think that love of learning keeps me young.

Learning makes me feel like I am still an important part of this world. I’m not just a space holder, but really contributing to the world by continuing to better myself. It gives me confidence.

After I have been studying or working on a project I always feel more tired, so I sleep better. I am happier. I feel a sense of accomplishment. I feel young.

Here are a few ideas to consider:

Learn a New Skill

Recently, I met a young woman who teaches a free, online, build-your-own-website tutorial. Since it was free, I decided that I would try it, but expected to drop out after the first unit.

Well, guess what! I did not drop out and I have built a website, kind of. The point is, I don’t think I would have given it a thought when I was younger. I was busy with life: husband, kids, house.

Now, I want to give it the time it needs because I think it will be of value to me, and I think stretching my brain is important. I am proud of myself and I have enrolled in a couple of other web courses. I now have a little bit of confidence in that area.

Do you love music and want to learn to read music? Take lessons. Just open your mind and learn what you can. Take a cooking class. Take a gardening class. Listen to a lecture at your library.

Get Better at an Old Favorite

I like to knit. I’ve done it for quite some time, but I usually knit very simple pieces because I don’t think of myself as an expert knitter. So, what is an expert knitter? Is there a club that I can’t join?

Of course not. I can call myself an expert if I want to, or I can learn to do more stitches and harder pieces and actually become one. And all that entails is finding a class and jumping in.

I like to go to knitting shows and take a few classes. I learn so much, and even if I never use the knowledge, I think it makes a difference in my quality of life.

Anything you like to do improves your life and becoming better at that thing improves it even more. Expanding on something you already know fills you with joy. What’s better than that?

Embrace Technology

You might not like this, but I feel sorry when I hear a person my age or older talk about technology then shrug their shoulders and hold up their hands. All the time, I hear people say they don’t understand technology.

Well, start to understand it. Learn a little about it. If you plan to live for a while, it is not going to go away. It is going to progress with or without you, and your life can be opened up to so many possibilities with just a little bit of tech knowledge.

Seniors who are computer savvy study their portfolios, plan travel routes and skype with their grandchildren across the world. To not stay somewhat up-to-date with technology is to deny yourself the opportunity to learn.

There is an app called Lynda that offers tutorials for all kinds of tech studies so you can learn at your own pace. You can take classes through your community outreach programs. The options are endless.

Go to School

In most states in the U.S., colleges offer classes to senior citizens for free. The admissions office can help you register. It is one of the most rewarding experiences to be in class with young people; to make friends with them.

If you want that kind of interaction, make sure not to take an online class. You are completely out of your comfort zone when you take a class at a college or university. It stretches your mind and teaches the youngsters that one can learn at any age.

Tell me what you like to learn. Do you agree that it keeps you young? What classes have you always wanted to take but something’s always stopping you? What’s stopping you now? Please join the conversation below.

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The Author

After a 30-year marriage crumbled, Paula Harer found herself single for the first time in 35 years. She felt like she had something to say about her experience, so started writing a blog called Starting Over at Sixty She addresses everything from loneliness and reinvention and offers ways to create a new outlook on life.

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