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The Joy Of Learning Something New

Do you ever feel like life is just….boring?

I feel like that all the time. Some days I just wake up, and I don’t feel like doing anything. Everything I’ve got planned for the day just makes me go…bleh.

Isn’t that crazy?

The world is so exciting and vibrant, with so much to do that even ten lifetimes wouldn’t even be enough to do everything we want. But we’re bored.

How are we bored? Why are we bored?

It’s madness, but we are.

And I think maybe, this might be the reason:

We’re bored because…we’re living boring lives.

Ouch.

But it’s the truth.

Think about it. Most of us spend every day just drudging through a daily routine, and if you don’t make an effort to plan or pursue anything interesting, well, then of course your life is going to boring.

I remember back when I used to work as an accountant, I was bored every single day. Why? Because I was doing the same thing every single day. Sure, one day my client was a dentist, and the next day my client was a plumber, but it was all the same. We talked about their business, and then I punched numbers into the computer, and then out of the printer came this little booklet that the client would pay $10,000 for. Did that make me feel good? No. It didn’t. My boss was happy, for sure, but not me.

Why?

Because I wasn’t learning anything new. I wasn’t growing. Every time I talked to my boss, she would never ask, “Brendan, are you learning anything new today? Brendan, have you developed any new skills today?”

No.

She would ask things like “Brendan, how many jobs have you finished today? Brendan, how many fees have you brought in today? Brendan, how much money have you made for me today?”

And needless to say, those were things I didn’t care about. But I was used to that, because all throughout my life, ever since I was a little kid, I’d been almost exclusively learning stuff I didn’t care about.

Long division? Covalent bonds? Trigonometry?

For the first 25 years of my life, I spent my days learning these things. I used to study them for hours, write notes on them, write reports about them, prepare speeches about them, stress about them before exams, and guess what?

I don’t care about any of them.

I’ve spent 90% of my life learning about things I couldn’t give two shits about. No wonder my life was boring.

It was only a few years ago when I decided that learning was actually fun. There is so much to know in the world, so much knowledge, yet almost all of us concentrate on the most boring things possible. But I’ve learned the world becomes a different place when you start soaking up knowledge that actually excites you.

When I started studying Spanish for the first time, I was electrified. It was so fascinating to me. For five weeks, I had class every day for four hours starting at 8am, and I never missed a single one. Not one.

Do you know how many classes I missed in university? Almost all of them. If my grades had been based on attendance, I would’ve failed every single paper.

Do you know how often I was late for work? Every day. Because I didn’t want to be there.

Do you know how many days I would’ve gone to maths class if I actually had a choice? Zero. Because maths is dumb.

Why do you think we need to have rules and laws and exams in place to force us to learn this stuff? 

Because no one cares about them. And to get someone to learn something they don’t care about, you need to hold a gun to their head.

Do you think anyone forced Jimi Hendrix to learn the guitar?

Do you think anybody forced Michael Jordan to learn how to shoot a fadeaway?

No. Because they loved what they were learning.

That’s the difference.

I loved learning Spanish. Life was so interesting again. I realised that suddenly, there were now 1 billion more people in the world I could talk to. How many stories could we share? How many new friendships could be made? It blew my mind.

From then on, I developed an undying love for language. If I had the lifetimes, I would learn every language in the world.

Then, I studied Chinese for a year. By the end of it, I had another billion new people to talk to. I couldn’t get enough.

After that, I went to learn to fight in the Philippines. I’ve never been in a fight in my life, but for some reason, I felt this desire to learn how to break stuff. It was one of the best months of my life. I got hit in the face. I injured every part of my body. I got to stand in front of a bag and get as violent as I wanted. I spent my days with guys who beat people up for a living, and ironically, they were some of the nicest guys I’ve ever met. I learned so much from that group of fighters, and felt like a completely different person afterwards.

I kept learning. I learned how to cook, how to make a website, how to ride a motorbike, how to make pizza.

And now, for the last three weeks or so, I’ve been learning to dance. Every day I head to the studio, and I learn how to connect my body with music. I’ve never learned a dance step in my life, but again, it’s breathed new life into me and given me eyes into a whole new world. Here in Ecuador, I wake up late, sit around and write, sometimes work out, sometimes cook, sometimes go sightseeing, but I never, ever miss dance class. I can’t wait to see what I’ll get taught in class that day.

Learning doesn’t stop when you finish school. In fact, I believe that’s exactly when it starts. You’re done with the bullshit then. No more exams, and lectures, and “required papers”. You can finally start learning whatever you want. And you must keep learning, because if you don’t, if you don’t keep acquiring new knowledge, what are you doing? If you’re not getting better every day, if you’re not expanding your experiences, why are you even still alive?

Let me ask you, when’s the last time you actually learned something you wanted to learn? Maybe you want to learn to sing? Or learn to tango? Or learn yoga, or French, or cooking, or painting? Maybe you wanted to learn to bake a chocolate tart? Or play the violin?

So why haven’t you started yet?

Isn’t it funny how we put off all the things we actually want to learn in life, but for some reason we have the time to go to work every day and learn how to write a fucking SUM IF statement on Excel.

Madness, right?

So that’s my message for all of you today. Start learning something you’ve always wanted to learn. Excite your mind again. Feel that sparkle inside yourself when you learn something new and realise you’re a little bit closer to the person you want to be. Do it now. Buy the course or sign up for the class. You might find it’s exactly what your life has been missing.

Buena suerte!

Bren

P.S. Don’t forget to come back and tell me all about it!

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11 thoughts on “The Joy Of Learning Something New

  1. Love this–thank you for sharing! I’m a junior in college in the U.S. right now studying Finance & Real Estate, and while I vaguely “like” what I’m learning (obviously I had the choice in picking my majors), I’m just so BORED of everything. I can totally agree that the only reason I’m still trying so hard in these classes are for the test & paper grades–I’m just so checked out from the past 15 years of school, rigid schedules, and having every day for the next 3 weeks planned out.

    I’m studying abroad in New Zealand this January – June. Do you have any recommendations on unique NZ classes or clubs I should look into? I’m open to learning/trying anything and don’t know anybody else traveling there–so I’m hoping to get as involved in the local community (in Wellington) as possible.

    1. Hi Sarah, great to know you’re heading to NZ, I’m sure you’ll love it. I’m not too familiar with Wellington, but my advice would simply be to think about what you enjoy most or have always wanted to do (deep down you’ll know!) and then find a class or course to suit. NZ usually has a lot of community classes etc for most things, so I’m sure you’ll find whatever you’re looking for 🙂

  2. It’s right out of “The 4 Hour Work Week” Bren. Replace the shit you don’t like doing with shit that keeps you interested. Otherwise, you get to stay miserable in whatever you choose. Keep learning Bren. I’m glad you do what makes you happy my freind. We all should.

    1. Hi Derek,

      I need to re-read that book. I’ve read it once and I know people that have read it over 10 times and continue to keep reading it for inspiration. But I totally agree, if you dedicate your life to something you don’t love, logically you will be unhappy. Cheers for sharing!

  3. Everything you wrote in that post is just so true! I spent 3 months learning French in an intensive course when we lived in Geneva, and each day I would come home after spending a full work-day (9-4ish) in class and actually WANT to do my homework and continue learning. I even found nothing more exciting than reading french magazines and understanding them. My only problem now, is that since leaving Geneva, even though I promised myself I would continue learning french, I haven’t and now I can barely understand a thing. Rather annoyed at myself for that one. Never mind though, time to pick up another thing to learn.

    1. Ooh French. I was supposed to head to France to take up an intensive course this year, but plans kind of changed. But it’s still definitely on my ever growing list. I relate totally to your lack of practice – I spent a year in China learning Chinese and now I barely understand anything either – it’s frustrating for sure. But we know what we have to do to solve that 🙂 Thanks for commenting and good luck with your next venture!

  4. Like what you have written and it’s so true. One year of Japanese language gone down the drain. Now, l started to pick up guitar playing again after so many years of neglect. My ex-working colleagues bought me a guitar for my birthday. It’s tough being a caregiver 24/7 to my darling, demensia-suffering Mum and quite bed-ridden, too. But, l hang in there efen though at times, l practically sleep on my watch! Poor Mum. I hope she understands. Like l mentioned elsewhere before, she’s the Love Of My Life and l wouldn’t have it any other way.
    Really enjoy reading your blogs as well as other blogs l have read in order to learn and improvise to make my terrible blog more readable and interesting, too!

    1. Hi Teresa, love that your family is your priority. I do hope you find time for yourself too. Nice hearing from you again and take care 🙂 Bren

  5. Thanks Bren for this inspiring article. I too have started learning and experimenting new things and I realize the more new thing you try out, the more you discover yourself. And infact, one thing leads to another. You might meet someone in a French class that ignites your interest in Sailing and so on… Life is so beautiful and interesting, when you are open to new things to try. Love and respect from India! Let me know if you ever visit.

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