As part of our special bimonthly series on Character Strengths, we are posting articles that highlight the 24 strengths (your best innermost qualities) outlined by the VIA Institute on Character and discussing how to better apply them in your everyday life. To take the free survey and find our your own top strengths, click here.
A Zen teacher once said, “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities; in the expert’s mind there are few.” Lifelong learners take this fresh mindset of seeing things as “new”—like a beginner—and view everything as a series of opened doors to delight in new learning.
If you are high in this character strength, then you see your problems and life stress as opportunities—ways you can grow and gain new perspective—rather than feeling squashed or hindered by them. And, research shows love of learning is also linked with healthy and productive aging and the ability to seek and accept challenges. It helps us have a greater sense that more is possible!
In my strengths workshops, I often teach people like Sandy, who subscribes to the school of life philosophy. Despite having a college degree, Sandy attends as many courses and certifications in positive psychology that she can. It’s as if she is collecting courses that might help her along her career path. Sandy is systematically building up her knowledge, using her passion for learning as the driver. This makes her a more knowledgeable and prepared employee and offers her an abundance of coping and personal development tools to enhance her own life along the way.
How might you boost your love of learning? Try these strategies:
1. COMBINE YOUR STRENGTHS
Research shows that your strength of curiosity is particularly important for building your love of learning. Ask yourself: What topics am I most interested in? What subjects do I feel a sense of passion for?
2. USE THE WEB TO YOUR LEARNING ADVANTAGE
Two pathways to consider: Select a topic you are curious about. Read and explore 10 websites on the topic. Search for a MOOC (massive open online course)—these are free classes on just about any topic and offered by some of the most prestigious universities in the world. Try one course to build your knowledge.
3. ATTEND TO THE FIZZLE
What interest areas have you allowed to fizzle in your life? Maybe you used to love painting or drawing? Perhaps you started learning tennis but didn’t have time to keep it up? Give yourself time to dig back into the learning you once started.
RYAN M. NIEMIEC, Psy.D., is a licensed psychologist, certified coach, author and Education Director of the VIA Institute on Character, in Cincinnati, Ohio. His latest book, Character Strengths Interventions: A Field Guide for Practitioners, was released earlier this year. For more, visit viacharacter.org.