18 ways to educate yourself every day (because nerds are sexy)

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at 20 or 80. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.” Henry Ford

At the start of this year I made a decision that I want to commit to myself to a pursuit of intellect. I’m already a bit of a nerd, so this wasn’t really an alien concept for me, however I quickly realized that in order for me to make educating myself a priority in my life – I would have to make it into a daily habit. Here is a list of some suggestions for small practices you could implement into your lifestyle. I would not expect anybody to do all of these things every single day, but you can choose a few, and keep your learning varied and fun! At first it may seem overwhelming, but after a few months of this you will reach a point where suddenly you feel like have access to so much more information and knowledge than you ever had before. Simple conversations and discussions with people become so much more interesting. Your brain becomes a very cool place to hang out!

Wow, I did not just say that.

1. Watch a TED talk every day.

“Riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world.” These are the kind of bright ideas that I would like to fill my head with.

2. Read a random article of interest from www.howstuffworks.com every day.

They are quick, easy, informative, and give you a glimpse of a subject that you may decide to do more research on later!

A lovely reader recommended the podcasts “Stuff you should know” and “Stuff mom never told you” which can be found on the website.

3. Read for half an hour every day before bed.

This is such a monumental suggestion. The habit of reading for 30 minutes every day can really kick start your goal of “getting back into reading” and of course educating yourself as well. 30 minutes is not too hard to set aside at the end of the day. Just get yourself into bed 30 minutes earlier if you have to. If you read for 30 minutes every night you should be able to get through at least one book every two weeks. That’s 26 books a year (approximately). With this kind of reading rapport you are bound to make a sizable dent into your reading list.

4. Learn more about your job.

Focus more at work. Take the time to really understand why you do the things you do at work, instead of simply going through the motions. Even if this is a job you have been at for years, there is more to discover. Do some research on the company you work for, where did they come from? And what do they really do? There are great opportunities for growth and learning even in our sometimes boring 9-5 desk jobs. Although it may seem that you are just on the other end of a desk, your clients see you as an expert in your field. So make sure you are one!

5. Make learning something you do for “fun”.

Well, it should already be fun that you are taking the time to invest in yourself and learning more about your world – but you know how you could make it more fun? By getting other people involved (yay for them 😉 ). You could watch documentaries with your partner or work on puzzles with your children, play trivial pursuit with your family, or discuss new and fresh topics with your friends.

6. Work on a puzzle every day.

This could be jigsaw puzzles, riddles, math puzzles etc. Anything that requires you to practice your mental acrobatics. You can buy simple “Train your brain” books from your local bookstore, that have a puzzle a day to make things really easy for you!

7. Read classics.

Something I try to force myself to do is to read books that are actually a little bit challenging – for the purpose of not only being “well read” but also having an opportunity to expand my vocabulary. Classics epitomize english language at it’s finest. I’m not saying they are always a joy to read, but boy do I feel proud of myself when I finish one.

8. Play www.freerice.com for a few minutes every day.

Work on your vocabulary whilst simultaneously feeding the hungry! You may pass GO. You may collect $200. The great thing about playing this every day is that they tend to repeat words, so you really start getting used to remembering new words that you were not initially used to.

9. Learn a new word every day.

Most of the online dictionaries have a “Word a day” feature that you can subscribe to by e-mail, or simply check online. Learn a new word every day, and make it your intention to use that word 3 times in your day.

10. Watch Documentaries.

Watching documentaries has never been easier! You can watch them on TV, and even on youtube. Sometimes I just type in a subject I am interested in and then “part 1” and see what I can find. It’s also fun to watch documentaries on things you have no prior knowledge or real interest in.

One of my commenters has recommended BBC documentaries (I agree), in particular Planet Earth, and Wild China. National geographic has some pretty spectacular documentaries too.

11. Follow some interesting blogs.

Find some bloggers that inspire you and fill your mind with bright ideas and thoughts, and follow them. Another option is to subscribe to a magazine that really fascinates you.

12. Take a class.

What better way to affirm to yourself that you are educating yourself – than to take an actual class? Find a topic that you wouldn’t mind learning more about, and register!

13. Learn a new language.

Are there any languages that you have been interested in learning? Well, why not start now! Take a class, get private lessons, watch videos online – whatever it is, find time in your life to immerse yourself in this new pursuit!

14. Take up a new hobby / put more effort into your current hobby.

I think everybody should have a hobby. Something that you can really throw yourself into. That you do just for fun, that makes you happy, that improves some aspect of yourself, and something you can commit to. If you can’t think of one – create one. There are plenty of hobbies out there. Pick one. Picking them is easy. Staying committed is hard. And even though hobbies are “Fun”, a degree of commitment is required if you ever plan to see some kind of result. Create a schedule in your week to really commit to your new hobby – a certain number of times a week, a  couple of hours a day – it really is up to you. Learn all about your new hobby, both the theory and the application.

15. Try new recipes.

You could buy a new cook book, subscribe to a cookery magazine, or even browse the miracle that is the internet. To make this fun, you could have themes and goals each week, like “eating healthy”, raw food, desserts, smoothies, appetizers, main courses, salads, fruits etc.

16. Practice memory games.

It’s one thing to stuff your head with all this information, its something completely different to access this information again when you really want it. No genius is considered a genius if he can’t remember what it is that he knows. By working with your memory, you can work on your ability to keep your new knowledge available for you to retrieve it.

17. Read the headlines.

My parents read the headlines every day. My mom says that I shouldn’t leave the house without having some clue of what’s going on in the world. I haven’t really implemented this much in my life yet – sometimes I just feel like the news is just so overwhelming – I don’t even know where to start (Does anyone else feel like this?!). I guess that’s why she suggested to “READ THE HEADLINES”.

I don’t think there can be anything wrong with knowing a little bit about what’s going on in the world.

18. Whenever you are making a trip somewhere, or doing something new – take the time to learn a little bit about it.

If you are ever stuck for new things to learn, this is a great way to give you some ideas. Use your life as an inspiration. If you are planning on going to a new city for the long weekend – learn about it. If you meet a new friend who is a wine merchant, learn all about being a wine merchant.

At first, I sometimes felt like I was stuck for new things to learn – which to me now feels totally ridiculous because is there really anything I couldn’t learn more about? But over time, after implementing many of these techniques, I find that my brain automatically gives me new topics to learn about. It is just INTERESTING!

And one day you are going to be able to talk about these things in discussions, and in your own mind you are going to be thinking “Wow.”

I remember a couple of years ago I had read a LOT of information about blue-whale attacks, their anatomy, their physiology, and how they ingest and digest their prey. A few months later, lo and behold – a girl in my class randomly said “Hmm I wonder what happens if you got eaten by a blue whale…”

Ah, yes. My time had come.


Here are some other resources suggested by my readers and commenters:

19. Discover what you may stumble upon when you StumbleUpon!

I don’t know how I could forget this little goldmine. I use it all the time and I love it!

20. Wikipedia

You can browse random articles on wikipedia, or you could use it as a great starting point for your own private nerdy research in an area of your choice! Awesome.

21. Play agoogleaday.com

I have not used this yet. It was a suggestion from a reader, but it looks fun!

If you have any other suggestions, let me know. 

It is such an honor for me to freshly pressed, for the third freaking time! The prior two times have been for my photography posts, and it was my personal mission to be FP’ed for my writing – which is something I love to do. Thank you for your support and love!

Enjoy my blog. Subscribe.


Our education system: Building professionals not prodigies.

I believe we are born as bundles of creativity. We are born with the full potentiality to create and recreate ourselves however we choose. Every child is born an artist, exhibiting their artistic finesse through finger-painting, drawings and play dough models. Children are born musician and dancers – singing and moving – using their bodies to express themselves, and as a tool to maneuver their way through this new world. Children are born actors, they instinctively know which roles to play and when to play them, and they love to dress up, play house, play space ship, and create other wonderful and whimsical scenarios. Children are mathematicians and scientists, they explore and seek solutions. Their whole world is a giant science experiment and they don’t care if it gets messy. They follow the scientific method; they repeat experiments until they get proven results, and then they draw their conclusions. As you can see, creativity is not something that needs to be taught, creativity is something that must be nurtured.

So, what are the options available in our community for our creativity to be nurtured? Well, there aren’t many, and our education system certainly isn’t one of them.

What happens to our creativity as we grow up? We are educated out of it. We accumulate degrees, awards and certificates and display them proudly in our homes, and discuss them while we drink coffee with old friends from the past.

Now you have a PhD – a piece of paper to prove that you are worthy to sit behind a desk with your name on it.

But a PhD doesn’t mean inner peace. And a PhD doesn’t necessarily guarantee you are making a positive impact on the world and yourself.

This is not to devalue the importance of academic success and the pursuit of intellect – but it is to raise the question that should our institutionalized claim to intellectual fame be the only exclusive indicator of a life well lived, and a creative soul well nurtured? Hell to the no.

The children we are educating as a community today are the children that will be creating the life of the future. With so many transitions and crises, and the incessant and necessary building and rebuilding of our social, economic and environmental structures, we as a planet can barely predict how the world is going to be in 5 or 10 years. If we can’t predict how our world is going to be, how can we attempt to appropriately educate our children for it?

We have fallen in love with the institution of education itself. We are so concerned with the institution itself that we have become institutionalized. We lose sight of what is really important. What is important is who you are when you leave school. Harold Shipman graduated Medical school. He passed all his exams. He was a doctor and simultaneously also one of the most prolific serial killers ever. The question is who are you and are you okay with it? That is the fundamental question – not what you are, or what you do or how well you can do it. But who are you and are you happy in your skin? Are you making a positive impact in your life, the life of others, and in the planet? Are you contributing to your own joy allowing that to spill into the world around you? I believe that these three things must coexist in order to give people a fulfilled sense of inner peace.

So what is creativity and how do I get me some of that? Creativity is the ability to think outside the box, to always ask questions and generate new ideas. It is the ability to see many different solutions. Creativity is an attribute of all geniuses, innovators and successful world leaders. There is just something about them that makes them “brighter” than the others. I always wondered what this quality was. What makes these people so different from you and I? And I realized it isn’t their ability to do mental math quickly in their head, or to write best selling books – it is their ability to generate ideas and a new way of doing things. Einstein said “Imagination is more important than knowledge”. Now that’s something comin’ from a genius who completely revolutionized physics as we know it today. And how did he do that? With a “thought experiment”. He imagined how reality would shift and adapt if he was traveling at the speed of a ray of light. Come on. How many times have you imagined what it would be like to travel at the speed of a light ray?  Probably not that much. And in his time, this was completely unheard of. His initial research was widely discredited, and he even struggled to find a job as a high school physics tutor. It took years for the world to “catch up”, and when they did, our understanding the cosmos changed. If Einstein can understand it, then so can we; creativity is more important than anything. This is what we must nurture in our children and in ourselves.

Only through creativity is there opportunity for growth in any and every facet of your life, from academic pursuit to personal relationships. And only through growth do we have chance to experience moments of peace and clarity.

What we need to cultivate is a love of learning and discovering – not a love of school. This is a love of creativity. And this means not being afraid of being wrong. I’m not saying that being wrong is synonymous to being creative- but I am saying that being creative means always facing the possibility of being wrong.

No one likes to be wrong in the standard educational experience. We get the grades or we don’t get the grades and we are wrong. We suck. Now, I can be objective because I am a student and I am a student who gets the grades (or at least tries to 100% of the time!) – and that has always been a priority to me. Because of this I am able to recognize that there are other ways to do things. Even though I like and will cultivate whatever habit I need to have in order to enjoy good grades, I feel sad at my lack of true creativity, when I am around people I admire, and I see that I really got nothin’ on them because I am just not used to thinking with my soul.

Anyone can be a doctor. You just have to pass the tests. But what does it take to really excel? To be an excellent doctor? It takes creativity and dedication. It means doing research, and always being on the brink of new medical discoveries and evolution, and sharing your ideas. That shit ain’t easy!

We don’t need doctors. We need healers.

We don’t need teachers. We need masters.

We don’t need students. We need explorers.

We don’t need fanatics. We need open mindedness.

We don’t even need the answers, we just need people who are always asking questions. These are the people who are moving our world forwards, and I want to be one of them.

This is the natural evolution of our community now. This is what we need. For us to turn into the healers, the masters, the explorers and the lovers – is going to take some work for us to level up. To extend beyond what we have been taught and made to believe all our lives.

What we need is every person in this world to be doing exactly what they need to be doing for the world to come to some happy equilibrium – instead of forcing people into other people’s moulds of “success” and what it is. At the end of the day, success is doing something you like to do, liking the way you do it and liking yourself. Success is living your life your own way.

We all have a special talent and we must find a way to share that with the world. That is our dharma – our duty in our life – to simply find a way to express yourself, to find your joy and to allow that joy to spill into the lives of others. Nothing will bring more joy to you than to share, serve, and surrender.

What I hope for our education system is personalized learning, and the end of the hierarchy of classes which dictates that math and science are first and foremost, followed by humanities and only then, at the bottom of the food chain- the arts. Who made that shit up? Seriously? We need the scientists just as much as we need the actors and actresses. We need the doctors just as much as we need the poets and authors.

At the end of the day, do we want our children to excel as students, or as people? Our responsibility as parents is to give our children an environment where educating yourself is easy and natural and fun.

A final point to add (as it seems this novel of a blog post is not quite long enough ;)) is a small little lesson I’ve learned this last year – and this is that I tend to become very suspicious of myself when I find that I have a strong opinion on anything, from the war, to the AIDS epidemic, to dinosaurs, to religion. The stronger my opinion, the less convinced I am.

The world would be a different place if we spent less time worrying about what is “right” and “wrong”, what is “good” and “bad”, what is “true” and “false”, how you should or shouldn’t react, what should or shouldn’t happen to you, and instead just look at what the world needs, to finally come alive, and give everything you have.

I would  say the world would be a “better” place, but then again, I wouldn’t want to put a label on it 😉