Why learning can be good for your mood

As I write this, it’s a Monday. An hour and a half from now, I’ll rise from this seat in the Stanford University library (pictured below) to make my over to an auditorium where Meg Whitman, current CEO of Hewlett Packard, former CEO of eBay is giving a talk.

I very nearly decided not to go, though.

What the heck?


Hearing about the talk yesterday, I initially figured it as a must-see. But then reality took over. I’d got lots of work to do. I needed to write. I always write on Mondays. I didn’t want to get left behind.

But as I caught myself thinking these thoughts, I pulled myself up sharply.

Are you crazy? Eighteen months ago when you were still living in the UK, you’d have been deeply envious of someone who could catch a free talk by someone so illustrious simply by strolling round the corner.

Now, while I don’t know exactly what Ms. Whitman will speak about, there’s a pretty good chance it will be fascinating. Regardless of her talk’s content, I’m going to learn something, and perhaps I can remind us both that learning almost always feels good.

It can be a particularly helpful way to give yourself a boost should you happen to be feeling under the weather.

Of course I’m deeply fortunate to have the resources of Stanford at hand, but I suspect that learning opportunities are closer to you, too, than you may imagine.

Why not turn on the radio to catch a documentary? Or watch one on TV? You could find a podcast online.

Pick up a book, newspaper or magazine. Watch a TED talk. Ask a friend to tell you something you don’t already know.

Please, please do your level best to never turn down any opportunity to learn, wherever this may be. Today’s a great place to start.

And definitely don’t let routines get in the way. For although they can certainly be helpful at times, within every routine there’s a rut waiting to be found.

11 thoughts on “Why learning can be good for your mood

  1. “Learning almost always feels good”. I agree, Jon. And thanks for the reminder that it can be a boost if you happen to be feeling under the weather. I instinctively knew this to be the case for me, and when my mood is low, it is nearly always due to a lack of intellectual stimulation.
    Stamford University has connotations for me, as my father used to be a visiting professor there back in the seventies. It is nice to see the photo.

  2. A life well lived depends on growth which is fueled by exposure to new ideas. Habits & rituals are central to our well being but taking advantage of a learning situation at he expense of routine is always a worthy trade off. The opportunity to take any walk around the beauty of the Stanford campus would trump any” have to” for me. I disagree with Meg Whitman’s politics but could definitely learn something from her. Enjoy the talk.

    1. Thanks s.p. Yes, it was an interesting talk – and thank you for reminding me to keep my eyes open as I walk through this stunning campus.

  3. Spot on. Coming late to academic study was a revelation. Having done several what I would call hard core classes at Oxford Continuing Education, I am more of an autodidact now. Pick up that book and learn. Yes!

    1. Good for you Jackie. After those hard core classes, I love the idea that you’re now self-directing your learning. Who knows where it’ll take you? Who knows…

  4. What a beautiful and inspirational building! Yes there is nothing more depressing than being in a rut but thanks for the reminder Jon.

    1. Thank you Stella. I know what you mean about ruts being depressing, even though there’s a lot to be said for the supportive effect of routines, but I guess it’s always good to be on the look out for the latter turning into the former?

  5. Hi Jon,

    Thanks for the ‘nudge’ on the power of learning. Inspired by your words I checked in on a TED talk by Brene Brown on the power of vulnerability, which was excellent. Glad to see you are still enjoying life out there! Sending a smile 🙂

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