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Chris Dunmire : Learning from Others: It's Just What We Do

Learning from Others: It's Just What We Do

By Chris Dunmire

When I graduated from high school, I thought that I was done with learning. I really thought I knew all that I needed to know about life to move on into adulthood and become the person I was supposed to be.

(waits for laughter to stop)

No, it's okay, really. I know that I'm not the only one who thought that way. I think many 18-year-olds are ready to move on into more serious matters in their lives, but some mistakenly think that they have it all figured out before life experience takes them around for a few loops. Well, at least that was true in my case.

Now in my early 30s, I view my 18-year-old self quite differently. And yes, I can say with great confidence that when I'm in my 40s I'll feel differently about today's "me." In fact, if I live to be 100, each decade will produce similar results for the former one. For certainty, life teaches us that the more we learn, the less we realize we knew.

Today's "me" has come to understand life to be one continual learning process. This learning includes not only secular education, but personal learning through our own (and other's) experiences, trials, and triumphs.

Open to Experience

I believe the key to lifelong learning is having a student mindset. This mindset allows life to teach us at any given opportunity while we are open to new ideas and possibilities. Yes, lessons are waiting for us just about everywhere we take notice.

In the same vein, much of what we've come to know and understand has been communicated to us by someone else. Granted, we learn much from our own experiences, but think about how much others have taught you — "others" being teachers, family, friends, books, and media.

To illustrate how much we glean from other people, here are a few of my own examples:

  • I learned how to tie my shoes from my big sister (age 4).
  • I learned how to check the oil and other fluids in my car from my dad (age 16).
  • I learned the value of using credit cards wisely and saving money from my husband (age 23).
  • I learned how important it was to live life to the fullest from my older brother Tom, when he unexpectedly died in a work-related accident at age 29 (age 24).
  • I learned about the fascinating lives of Alexander Calder and Keith Haring from my art appreciation professor in college (age 29).

Student of Life

Now that I see life as a great teacher, I've come to view the entire world and its inhabitants as a huge resource for learning and great collaboration of knowledge and experience that I can partake of. I am excited that anywhere I go, and every person that I come across, has the potential to expand my perspective and add to my knowledge bank in some way.

Viewing life that way really changes your outlook on things, doesn't it? •

© Chris Dunmire 2004. All rights reserved.

About Chris Dunmire

Chris is a deeply engaged creative spirit, lover of wit, words, and wisdom, and the driving force behind the award-winning Creativity Portal® Web site. [...]

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