The character strength Love of Learning involves exploring new topics, mastering new skills, and increasing your knowledge. It’s easy to view learning as a discrete event: we read a book or we take a class, for example. But learning can occur at any time as we go about our daily life. Here are three ways to exercise your learning muscle throughout your week.
1. Strive for personal excellence. Rather than seeking “perfection” or competing with other people, focus instead on becoming the best version of you that you can be. This is one of the reasons I love the VIA Character Strengths so much and why I’ve been blogging about them for the last several weeks. Bringing more attention to our character strengths is empowering, energizing, and motivating, and enables us to take our effectiveness to a whole new level. When I feel myself struggling, I can draw upon the strength of learning and ask myself “What am I finding so challenging in this situation?” or “What is preventing me from being at my best right now?” When I approach these questions from the perspective of learning, I am more open to seeing where the opportunities for change lie.
2. Fully engage with people to learn about them and learn from them. When you’re talking to people, make it a goal to learn about them by asking questions and really listening to what they have to say. Just the other day, I was talking to someone I’ve known for two years and until that conversation, hadn’t realized that at one point in our careers, we had both worked in the same building at the same time. You can also learn from the people you’re interacting with. Over the past week I’ve talked to two different people about a particular challenge I’m facing and I walked away from each conversation with new perspectives and ideas to consider. Each of these individuals helped me look at my challenge from a different vantage point and their insights were incredibly helpful in me getting one step closer to clarity and resolution.
3. Look for opportunities to try something new. We grow when we encounter new and different experiences and stretch outside of our comfort zone. Tackling big fears certainly moves us out of our comfort zone, but we are not limited just to those. We can grow just as much by doing something on a smaller scale. Last year, I made it a personal goal to have at least 40 new and different experiences, which included tackling my big fear of heights by parasailing and tackling smaller fears by trying aerial hammocks, doing hot yoga, and being on the radio. No matter the “scale” of the experience, I learned something about myself from each new thing I tried.
What do you do to keep your learning muscle fresh? Challenge yourself to seek at least one new and different experience this week and see what you learn from it.
Resources: Character Strengths and VIA Survey
Peterson, C., & Park, N. (2009). Classifying and measuring strengths of character. In S. J. Lopez & C. R. Snyder (Eds.), Oxford handbook of positive psychology, 2nd edition (pp. 25-33). New York: Oxford University Press. www.viacharacter.org
Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2004). Character strengths and virtues: A handbook and classification. New York: Oxford University Press and Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. www.viacharacter.org