Take advantage of small learning opportunities today to make you happier tomorrow.
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Rarely does a day go by without Google’s “autocomplete” feature bringing a smile to my face.
For example as I set out to write today’s post on the mood-enhancing effect of learning, I decided to ask Google to remind me of just why this may be so.
So I dutifully typed in “Why does learning make you…”, but before I got a chance to add the word “happier”, Google helpfully threw four possible searches back at me. And right there at the top of the list was “Why does learning make your pee smell”.
Naturally this was too good an opportunity to be allowed to slip through my fingers, so I had the search engine show me the results of, I think you’ll agree, this very bizarre query. Don’t forget that these autocomplete suggestions are supposedly driven by what people actually ask Google.
Sadly I’m still none the wiser. The pages to which it linked were all about the effects of asparagus on pee-odour. Diddly squat (sorry) about why learning could have a similar result, so I’m afraid your guess is as good as mine on that front.
However, in the serendipitous way of search engines, I next found myself reading a report issued by the UK government earlier this year in which a widely-administered survey showed a significant association between frequent library use and reported wellbeing.
Broadly, the study suggests that people who visit libraries more are happier than those who don’t. They (and we) can’t of course know whether going to the library makes you happier, or whether happy people are more inclined to visit libraries, but I’d like to suggest that certainly in my own experience it’s the former.
When my mood takes a dive, I can find great solace in meandering through the neatly-laden shelves of a good library. (Book stores work, too, although sadly these days they’re becoming thinner on the ground.)
My library-wanders are, I’m sure, a form of informal learning, and I can think of at least four ways in which this may lift my mood:
1. Learning something new, even something relatively trivial, forces me to stop thinking the negative thoughts that had hitherto commandeered my mind.
2. Learning something new, specially something novel, can be fun and/or pleasurable.
3. Learning something new can boost my self-esteem and confidence. Now I know something I didn’t previously.
4. Some of the new stuff I learn can even be really useful.
You know, every day you and I are confronted with dozens of learning opportunities, so in the recognition that each of them may also be a happiness opportunity why not make the most of these in the next 24 hours?
Explore the unfamiliar, ask lots of questions, watch a TED talk, even look for self-learning from challenging or uncomfortable situations in which you find yourself.
Learn, learn, learn.
And, quite categorically, if you come across the barest hint of a clue about how learning could possibly affect the odour of one’s pee, please do let us know via the comments section of the blog.
Only if you have a nose for these things, though.