Learning and Happiness

It is Adult Learners’ Week again.

Adult Learners' Week 2011

It only seems like yesterday when we did our first Adult Learners’ Week blog.  Do you remember what the Three R’s really stand for?  If not, check back to last year’s blog.

What is Adult Learners’ Week?

Adult Learners’ Week is a campaign that ‘celebrates learning and learners in all their diversity, inspiring thousands of people each May to try something new. The initiative promotes the benefits of all kinds of learning, whether it is for fun or leading to a qualification.’

Happiness is on everyone’s agenda

The Saturday and Sunday papers are full of ‘happiness’ articles.  New Scientist (my favourite weekly) did a feature on it in April and Martin Seligman (the founder of Positive Psychology) has a new book out (Flourish: A New Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being – and How To Achieve Them).

Of course, with spring in the air, it is a good time to feel happy, but what has this to do with Adult Learners’ Week?

Flow and Happiness

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog about flow.  Flow is a state where you become so immersed in something that time seems to stop, so that, when you finish, you have hardly an inkling of how much time has passed?  You may only then realise how cold, how hungry or even how desperate you are for the loo.

The originator of the concept and author of a fantastic book on the subject (Flow: The Psychology of Happiness) is Mihaly Csikszentmihaly.  Note the subtitle of the book: in it, he describes flow states as states of great pleasure and enjoyment.  So forget wealth, parties and drugs: get immersed in something with a clear goal and evident measures of progress, which stretches you to perform at your limits.

Flow and Learning

Let’s re-read the last part of that last sentence:

‘…get immersed in something with a clear goal and evident measures of progress, which stretches you to perform at your limits.’

This describes Csikszentmihaly’s three criteria for a flow state: a goal, feedback, and challenge.  It also is the definition of learning: knowing what you want to be able to do, understand, or create; being able to monitor your progress; and moving beyond your present capabilities.

The Fourth R (and maybe a fifth)

I hope that, by now, you’ll be curious enough to have discovered what the original three R’s were.  So I am ready to add my own extra R:

‘Reasoning and analysis’

Perhaps a fifth my be:

‘Remembering and recall’

Back when I did maths at school, we took a little foray into classical logic, which is based on maths, of course.  We learnt about robust and faulty reasoning, and in particular, I recall the concept of syllogism.  Take two statements:

Learning creates flow

Flow creates happiness

A syllogism is a form of argument that makes a deduction from two statements of known truth…

Learning and Happiness

Stephen Hawking was told by his publisher that every equation he put into ‘A Brief History of Time’ would halve its sales.  He didn’t do so badly!  So I’ll take a chance and put one of my own into this blog, knowing you don’t pay to read it anyway:

Learning = Happiness

So here’s the Deal

If it is not already a habit, make this week a week to learn.  Here are ten top tips for how.

  1. Check out the Adult Learners’ Week website for ideas and opportunities
  2. Set yourself a challenge to take your hobby or passion to the next level and start working on it
  3. Watch a documentary on TV
  4. Find a new blog to read
  5. Take an hour to research a topic you’ve always been interested in
  6. Go out to lunch with a colleague and ask them to tell you all about their specialism, hobby, degree subject or favourite book
  7. Sign up for an evening class
  8. Pick up a quality magazine or newspaper and read it cover to cover
  9. Go to a library or a bookstore, choose a subject at random, pick the most appealing book on the shelves and read it
  10. Go for a long walk, notice the things around you (weather, buildings, trees, animals, people, vehicles, …) and when you get home, research any one of them that captures your interest

Management Pocketbooks you might enjoy

It’s tempting to say: ‘all of them’ but let’s face it; we all have our favourites and there are some you won’t like as much.  So, as a learner, or a trainer, or a teacher, here are some pocketbooks you might like:

Learning

Training

Teaching
(Thank you to our sister blog,
The Teachers’ Pocketbooks Blog)

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One thought on “Learning and Happiness

  1. Brian Barker

    Adult Learners’ Week always provides an excellent opportunity to think about learning a new language.

    The Esperanto Association has launched a course for beginners which I think provides an excellent springboard to the learning of many languages.

    I hope your readers may be interested 🙂

    You can see this at http://www.lernu.net

    Reply

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