“How dare you and the rest of your barbarians set fire to my library? Play conqueror all you want, Mighty Caesar! Rape, murder, pillage thousands, even millions of human beings! But neither you nor any other barbarian has the right to destroy one human thought!” – William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar
Our quest for knowledge can be traced to the very beginning of civilization. There are many ancient relics that prove this, but one of the most notable ones is the Library of Alexandria. Founded at the beginning of the 3rd century BC, it is one of the earliest and most sophisticated centers for learning.
As the largest and most significant libraries in the ancient world, it contained over a million scrolls, which included works of the great thinkers of the age such as scientists, mathematicians and poets from various civilizations.
Sadly, it was burned down by zealots during an invasion that was supposedly headed by Julius Caesar. The burning down of the Library of Alexandria is considered to be one of the greatest tragedies in the academic world. Humanity lost incalculable loss of ancient work that could never be retrieved again.
Yet, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, man has continued to search. After many eras of destruction and senseless warfare, there were golden eras of enlightenment that marked a time of great progress. Science and the arts have particularly flourished over the past two centuries.
Our natural curiosity that makes us ask the big questions is a gift of human intelligence. In fact, our brains are incredible, yet complex, works of art. With over 100 billion neurons, it enables us to synthesize, organize and memorize information at rapid speeds. If we learn how to use it correctly, we’ll have access to its unbound potential.
Yet most of us do not tap into even half of our brain’s potential because we have closed ourselves off to expanding and growing its capacity. Most people are now indifferent to their cerebral powerhouse and are willing to accept the status quo without much reasoning on their part.
The quality of our “information diet” has steadily declined over the years, with more and more people engaging their minds in superficial topics. Most reality TV shows and celebrity gossip are examples of entertainment sources that are essentially junk food for the mind and do not serve us in any way.
First, most professionals are exhausted from their busy and rigorous schedules. After leaving work, all they want to do is switch off their brain by watching TV at home or going to happy hour.
Second, some people believe that they know enough and that they’re done with their learning days. They are your classic know-it-alls whose egos delude them into thinking that no one can teach them something that they don’t already know about.
Third, some people live unhealthy lifestyles, which have a negative effect on their mental clarity. The mind-body connection proves that if we don’t take care of our bodies, our mental capacity to absorb and store information becomes stunted. Unhealthy diets, lack of sleep, consumption of drugs; these all reduce the quality of our thoughts.
If you can identify with any of the reasons above, it’s time to make an attitude and/or lifestyle shift if you want to achieve a higher level of success and personal growth in your life.
Countless studies have proven that one of the biggest indicators of success is a deep love for learning. Successful people are naturally curious and are always on the lookout to improve themselves. They read every day and are dedicated students of their profession.
Learning, however, is a lot more than just reading books – it’s an attitude towards life. It’s about nurturing our natural hunger to find out what’s out there and to seek it. It’s about opening our minds to the mysteries of life so that we can grow beyond the limits that we may have placed on our imagination.
When we were kids, we were more in touch with this curious part of our being, which was relentless about getting answers to the things we didn’t understand. If you have forgotten what that feels like, simply look into the eyes of any kid and you will be able to see their genuine sense of wonder.
As adults, we too can experience this child-like sense of wonder again. All we need to do to reclaim this part of ourselves is to make learning a fundamental part of our lives. Here are some ideas on how you can begin doing that:
1. Seek out more knowledge in your daily life: We’re fortunate to live in an information age where we can access knowledge with the click of a button. You can now find information outside traditional mediums such as books, audio books, newspapers and magazines. The Internet offers an incredibly vast repository of knowledge that you can easily access for little or no cost.
2. Attend lectures, classes, workshops, events, conferences: There’s no shortage of events in the world where people gather together to learn more about topics that interest them, whether it’s for personal growth or to sharpen their professional skills. The structured format of these events can make learning more effective and also offers opportunities for interaction with like-minded people.
3. Travel more often: Traveling can be one of the most mentally stimulating experiences. Travel expert, Rick Steeves, once said that “travel is rich with learning opportunities and the ultimate souvenir is a broader perspective.” I totally agree. Add your travel goals to your bucket list and try to commit to crossing one or two places every year – you won’t regret it!
4. Seek wisdom from others: The wisdom that we can gain from other people’s experiences can be an invaluable source of learning. If we can find mentors or people who have already succeeded in doing what we dream about, seeking their advice can helps us make leaps of progress. They can teach us strategies and tactics that can help us avoid making common mistakes and get ahead of the game.
I believe that we’re all seekers in this cosmic ocean, trying to find our place in the vast expanse of the Universe. The more enlightened we become, the more connected we become with the Universal intelligence that will show us the way.
All my best on your journey,
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