“A good teacher can inspire hope, ignite the imagination, and instill a love of learning.” – Brad Henry
Teachers come in all shapes and sizes. Our pets can teach us. Our children can teach us. Our parents can teach us. Our brothers, sisters, and friends can teach us. I think our learning is limited when we have to seek out someone who calls themselves a teacher and we limit our learning to one source.
I love to read. I love to read stories, I love to learn new things, I love to experience other places in different time periods. I love to gain perspective by experiencing what others have experienced. Dialogue is an important aspect of learning. We can have a dialogue with other people, not just by talking to them but also by reading what they write.
This is why blogging is so important. When we post something to our blog, we are initiating a conversation. We are telling others what we think. To tell someone what we think we have to have a dialogue with ourselves. I was watching a YouTube video that addressed how each of us changes every time we have a dialogue with another person. Each time you read something that causes you to rethink what your view of the world is, a part of you dies so that new perspective can add itself to who you are. I find this one fact to be startling.
Currently, I have a goal to read some of the world’s great philosophers. I am currently reading Nietzsche. Some of his ideas are really out there. Nonetheless, his thoughts are a great way to witness how an individual takes the philosophy of his time and questions it. He interjects what he believes to be true and refutes some of the thinking of his time. I think it is important to read the works of these people because they show us how to think, not what to think necessarily.
One of the character traits I continue to work on is tolerance. One of the aspects of tolerance is the ability to keep an open mind. Open mindedness requires us to weigh what we think against what we take in. If we are close-minded, we will never learn anything new. Sometimes we have to come face-to-face with someone’s point of view that is opposite of ours. How did they come to their conclusions? What are they proposing? Do these things make sense or are these points just drivel?
Besides literature, I am always interested in reading self-improvement or self-help books. Interestingly, some of these books are worthless. They are merely regurgitating the same ideas that someone else has already claimed. Interestingly, if you read enough of them, you do come across a novel idea from time to time that is really helpful.
Mini-habits is a book I read every year. It is a book that was created by Stephen Guise. Mini-habits is a novel idea, but some folks will not benefit from the wisdom in his book, particularly if they only do the bare minimum. The purpose of mini-habits is to develop a habit by doing something so ridiculously small that a person’s internal resistance to change will not pose a factor. The challenge, however, is when a person merely does the bare minimum and never increases their capability to do more. This is where mini-habits fail. But is it failure?
Mini-habits help us do something. That something can result in more if we keep doing them. Where I think they fail is when there is no motivation to do more than just the mini-habit over time. Take writing for example. Let’s say a person obligates themselves to write one word a day. It is obvious how ridiculous this mini-habit is. Subsequently, for mini-habits to truly be effective, the person has to set a standard where some progress can be made.
The premise of mini-habits is to do something that will edge you forward in a meaningful way to achieve some end. That end could be related to fitness, eating, reading, writing, or any other number of activities that would benefit the individual that wants to improve some area of their life. There has to be some drive to improve something. This leads us to a discussion about the two types of motivation.
Intrinsic motivation is the motivation we have internally. This motivation drives us to do something because we truly want to do something. The other type of motivation is extrinsic. Extrinsic motivation comes from the outside. This type of motivation is a boss at work, a social pressure if you will. When we are motivated by outside circumstances or forces, it only works as long as those outer pressures exist. Subsequently, intrinsic motivation is more beneficial to us over the long term. If we are intrinsically motivated to do something, we have a greater chance at success because this internal drive will never leave us.
We have a lot of intrinsic motivation when it comes to survival. If we are hungry, we are motivated to eat. If we are tired, we are motivated to sleep. Unfortunately, the things that can provide real meaning in our lives are those that are not necessarily related to our intrinsic motivations of survival. These have to be cultivated. We have to draw on others for these motivations.
Why is it a good thing to take care of ourselves physically? Why is it important to learn new things? Why is it important to interact socially with other people? Why is it important to create things? Why is it important to be charitable? These are the things that can make our lives meaningful but also require that we do something about them to truly benefit from them.
We can learn about these things by reading. We can read about people who show us the benefits of physical health. We can read about people who failed miserably at life. We can read about people who overcame great challenges and still ended up on top. When we read, we get inside of the author’s head. We learn how things were at a particular place and time. We learn what to do and what not to do. More importantly, we learn a set of standards by which we can live by.
Reading can be entertaining, informative, and challenging. When we read, we reflect on what we think we know and then, decide whether that thinking was right or whether it was wrong. This is where the growth occurs. The moment we discover a particular belief or value fails, and replace it with something new, we grow.
Read. Read for the enjoyment of reading. Read to learn. Read to experience things through the lens of someone else’s mind. The adventures that await you are endless.
Have a great Saturday everyone!
Until next time…