Socrates said that "The only true wisdom is knowing that you know nothing". I love this quote because in only nine words it reminds us just how much there is to learn in this world.
I was in the third grade when I first heard the phrase: 'You learn something new each day', and back then it was true. At school we were taught new things every day, and obtaining knowledge was our main purpose in life.
During those years, we weren't able to fully appreciate the benefits of being a sponge - in other words absorbing as much information as possible. The reality is most of us were more concerned with fitting in with the other kids, and too busy thinking about our next leisure activity (for me it was a game of afternoon soccer, or playing my Nintendo).
Despite the fact that parents and teachers emphasise the importance of learning in one's childhood years, I don't believe kids are mature enough to completely appreciate just how crucial knowledge and education will become later in life.
In those early years, most parents also preach that eating vegetables is imperative for their child's well-being. Given the option, most kids would choose chocolate over broccoli and carrots every night of the week.
However, as we become young adults, many of us realise we aren't in fact invincible and our bodies require healthy nutrients. As a result we make vegetables a major component of our diets. The bad news is that irrespective of age, one rarely stops desiring chocolate!
Anyway...back to knowledge.
It follows a similar pattern. As you get older you hopefully realise that 'knowledge is power', and the more of it you possess, the greater your ability will be to adapt to the diverse situations that life can throw at you. To put it simply, if you continue to educate yourself you will become a more well-rounded human being.
Unfortunately, not everyone on our planet adopts this view. Some people reach a point in life where they believe they already know everything they need to. These kinds of people often use the cliches 'What you don't know can't hurt you' and therefore 'Ignorance is bliss'.
I beg to differ.
To me ignorance creates a lack of depth and a limited capacity to develop. The best conversationalists, teachers and leaders are usually great storytellers who can contribute across a wide range of topics. They are able to do this because they possess a wealth of information.
When we complete our formal education, it doesn't mean our learning should stop. The onus is on us to continue feeding our minds after we lose access to our teachers and mentors.
So you may be wondering: 'How can I become more knowledgeable?'
There's no manuscript on the best way to do this, but my advice would be to step away from your familiar surroundings.
Try the following:
- Read about something that has nothing to do with your profession or favourite hobbies. Add Google and Wikipedia to your list of best friends - they'll make it worth your while, I promise.
- Study a foreign language. You can sign up for a class or even do one online.
- Learn about the history and rituals of another religion, and if you have the time read their holy text.
- Listen to or learn a piece of music you've never heard before.
- Open a dictionary and find a word you are unfamiliar with. Memorise it and try use it in an upcoming conversation.
- If you have a question or are curious to know more about something you've discovered, don't feel too shy to ask an expert. If their answer doesn't satisfy you, ask another expert for validation purposes.
I truly believe that a more educated population will not only make for a better universe, but also increase the depth of our human interactions.
So here I am, in my thirties and I can confirm that I constantly crave new information.
I attend trivia nights with my friends each week, I watch Jeopardy when I can, and I even have the paid version of the Knowledge app on my iPhone.
I guess you could say I am a knowledge junkie - and the truth is, I still feel as though I know so little. I wish I knew more, I wish there were more hours in the day to learn - and finally, I wish I had a photographic memory.
It's worth noting that knowledge is not exclusive to facts and historical events. Knowledge of oneself is equally important, and the journey of self discovery is essential for all of us. If we don't analyse our own habits and behaviours, we will be unable to understand why we end up in certain situations.
So no matter how old you are, or how much life experience you have, don't sit still.
Remember the phrase we were told in our younger years, so we truly can 'learn something new each day'.