Why Study This Mantra...
You will focus on becoming a life-long learner. You will learn to approach life with a growth mindset. And soon, you will see the world as it is – a place of wonder!
"Learn as if you were not reaching your goal and as though you were scared of missing it."
Being a life-long learner has a greater benefit than just knowing a lot of stuff. It cultivates a perspective in you that keeps you humble and curious – two very healthy states of mind. Put another way, it fosters "a beginner's mind" or a "growth mindset." More about these later in the month.
This month, you'll learn to incorporate learning into your day-to-day activities. For your challenge, you'll go a bit deeper. In short, you'll learn to become a life-long learner of things both big and small.
Before you begin...
Before you start these practices and challenges, take a moment to rate yourself on this mantra. Give yourself a score from 1-10 (10 being the highest).
Do this again at the end of a month of practices and challenges. How much have you grown?
Today's affirmation: “Becoming is better than being”
I am capable of learning and doing anything. No matter my abilities, my effort will ignite those abilities and turn them into accomplishments. This is how I’ll practice the growth mindset.
Today, I will be conscious of wherever I've slipped into a fixed mindset. I will usher it back into a growth mindset. I'll do this in just one area at a time, starting in the areas where I need it the most. The most important step in the process is simply awareness.
Today, I'll see the world as a place of wonder, not a place of judgement and fear. Challenges as opportunities, not obstacles. I will derive just as much happiness from the process as from the results. When I make a mistake, I'll talk about it. I'll determine how I can learn from it, then I'll move on.
I’ll appreciate when I’m a beginner at something. Anything I’m new at I’ll express with a “yet” at the end, as in “I don’t know how to do this... yet.”
In short, I’ll practice living with a growth mindset.
Sign Up For a Course
What subject has always fascinated you, but you've never really taken the chance to study it? French wines? Basketmaking? World War 2? It's time to break that barrier!
This month, do some research, then find and sign up for an online course in a topic you're curious about. Online educational resources out there today are abundant. Chances are, your course could be free through a tool like Coursera or EdX. But even if the course costs $50 or $75, it's money worth spending if it's truly something you're passionate about.
Once you're signed up, it's easy to procrastinate. Set a goal date to be finished by and create a weekly schedule that works for your life. Be realistic. Don't be too aggressive, but don't give yourself too much slack either.
Reflecting on Learning
It's easy to find information online, but it's another thing to retain and internalize the information. This is the primary issue with our modern information environment.
In the following pages, the goal is to leverage reflection and repetition as a method of retaining.
As you remove your mantra tonight, take a few minutes to write down the 3 key learnings from the today, summarized into 3 sentences. Spend 1-2 minutes truly reflecting on those learnings in order to incorporate them into your life going forward.
Then throughout the month, reflect back on all of the previous days’ learnings. Re-read them. How many do you still remember? How many did you forget? Highlight the messages that you find most important and make sure you focus on remembering them. Ask yourself... How else could you better remember them?
The Joy of Curiosity
In a world where virtually all information is available with a few keystrokes or swipes of your finger on a smartphone, it’s sometimes difficult to resist learning the answer to a question right away, but try to resist the urge! When you make yourself curious about something, then resolve it by learning the answer to your curiosity, that resolution provides you with positive hedonic value. In other words, curiosity makes you happier.1
Despite this effect, when offered the option of learning the answer to a trivia question right away, or being offered the chance to delay the answer, most participants chose to see the answer immediately. Part of growth is recognizing these biases in ourselves and doing what we can to combat them. Now that you’re aware of this behavior, explore and experience curiosity with the knowledge that you’ll likely feel better afterwards!
Social Queues Can Increase Curiosity
To best take advantage of this effect, leveraging social cues can help you incorporate curiosity into your daily life. In a fascinating study conducted by Rachit Dubey, Hermish Mehta, and Tania Lombrozo, the authors were able to increase curiosity of their test subjects when reading through a list of scientific questions by increasing a social queue for those questions (in the form of up-votes).2 Additional explanation of the up-votes was given to the test subjects: “the up‐votes were given by members of the online community who viewed the full text, not just the topic of the questions,” and that “the up‐votes were only based on the questions and not the answers to those questions.” The key takeaways included increased curiosity for questions with more up-votes (primarily via the reduced curiosity of questions with fewer up-votes), and the overall conclusion that an inherently intrinsic feeling such as curiosity can be extrinsically impacted. This has all sorts of implications for how we live our lives, who and what we choose to incorporate into our lives, and how we interact and manage others at work.
The Whole Being Instituted considers curiosity part of "intellectual health." Click to learn more!
- Ruan, Bowen & Hsee, Christopher & Lu, Zoe. (2018). The Teasing Effect: An Underappreciated Benefit of Creating and Resolving an Uncertainty. Journal of Marketing Research. 55. 10.1509/jmr.15.0346. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/323156674_The_Teasing_Effect_An_Underappreciated_Benefit_of_Creating_and_Resolving_an_Uncertainty
- Dubey R, Mehta H, Lombrozo T. Curiosity Is Contagious: A Social Influence Intervention to Induce Curiosity. Cogn Sci. 2021 Feb;45(2):e12937. doi: 10.1111/cogs.12937. PMID: 33580571; PMCID: PMC7900967. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7900967/
- Ten A, Kaushik P, Oudeyer PY, Gottlieb J. Humans monitor learning progress in curiosity-driven exploration. Nat Commun. 2021 Oct 13;12(1):5972. doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-26196-w. PMID: 34645800; PMCID: PMC8514490. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8514490/
- Oudeyer PY, Smith LB. How Evolution May Work Through Curiosity-Driven Developmental Process. Top Cogn Sci. 2016 Apr;8(2):492-502. doi: 10.1111/tops.12196. Epub 2016 Mar 11. PMID: 26969919. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26969919/
- Galli, Giulia & Sirota, Miroslav & Gruber, Matthias & Ivanof, Bianca Elena & Ganeshalingam, Janani & Materassi, Maurizio & Thorpe, Alistair & Loaiza, Vanessa & Cappelletti, Marinella & Craik, Fergus. (2018). Learning facts during aging: the benefits of curiosity. Experimental Aging Research. 44. 1-18. 10.1080/0361073X.2018.1477355. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/325304486_Learning_facts_during_aging_the_benefits_of_curiosity
- Ng B. The Neuroscience of Growth Mindset and Intrinsic Motivation. Brain Sci. 2018 Jan 26;8(2):20. doi: 10.3390/brainsci8020020. PMID: 29373496; PMCID: PMC5836039. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5836039/
- Yeager, D.S., Hanselman, P., Walton, G.M. et al. A national experiment reveals where a growth mindset improves achievement. Nature 573, 364–369 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-019-1466-y
- Li, Y., & Bates, T. C. (2019). You can’t change your basic ability, but you work at things, and that’s how we get hard things done: Testing the role of growth mindset on response to setbacks, educational attainment, and cognitive ability.Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 148(9), 1640–1655. https://doi.org/10.1037/xge0000669