Lessons on Lifelong Learning From Einstein And Feynman (How to Acquire Skills For Life)

Thomas Oppong

Skills, knowledge and experience can become obsolete over time. What you know and value today may not be relevant in the next decade.

The most successful people are learners for life. It’s not as formal as it sounds. Lifelong learning means maintaining your curiosity and aiming to be smarter today than you were yesterday. It’s a mindset that sets you up for acquiring knowledge for your life and your career.

The good news is, you don’t need formal education or classes to become a learner for life. You can rely on a few sources of knowledge to feed your mind every day.

Einstein famously said, “Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death.” It’s literally the best way to explain lifelong learning.

We are unconsciously learning all the time from our families, social connections, the books we read, the movies and tv shows we watch and the people we meet. We are being influenced in so many ways without our conscious permission.

Imagine taking that daily learning process into your own hands and choosing what you want to learn deliberately. Imagine choosing your sources of learning and discovering something new every day.

The more we expose ourselves to practical wisdom for life, the more we think about everyday problems from different angles and consider many possible solutions to our practical problems.

“By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.” — Confucius

Einstein was a massive advocate of self-learning. He learned from smart minds on his own and engineered his own learning and working life. He learned a lot from solving and proving theories on his own.

“I played hooky a lot and studied the masters of theoretical physics with a holy zeal at home.” He said. Einstein “discovered his own original proof of the Pythagorean theorem at age 12.”

Successful people continue to learn even after formal education. It’s a better approach to expand your knowledge and acquire new skills faster, especially if you enjoy the process.

Einstein once wrote to his son about enjoying what you learn and said, “…play the things on the piano which please you, even if the teacher does not assign those. That is the way to learn the most, that when you are doing something with such enjoyment that you don’t notice that the time passes. I am sometimes so wrapped up in my work that I forget about the noon meal….”

Cultivating the love for learning makes the process enjoyable.

It may not be easy, but you will look forward to discovering something new every day. And you will remember a lot of what you learn in the future if you figure things out for yourself. Improving your intellectual capacity should be fun — happy learners are quick learners.

I’m using this approach to learn about the nature of time and fundamental physics. Carlo Rovelli’s excellent books, /The Order of Time/ and /Seven Brief Lessons on Physics/, have improved my knowledge about our great universe and the invisible laws that hold things together.

The pleasure of enlightenment is one of my biggest motivations for choosing new topics and learning new things.

Richard Feynman, a famous scientist and physicist once said, “If you’re not having fun, you’re not learning. There’s a pleasure in finding things out.” The motivation for learning takes you on the best journey possible.

Intelligent people know the limits of their knowledge and find better and smarter opportunities to push past their ignorance. They don’t close themselves off to new knowledge. They maintain their curiosity for life.

Einstein said, “A true genius admits that he/she knows nothing.”

Ignorance is the beginning of authentic wisdom.Smart learners are always looking for answers. They question almost everything — even their own fundamental assumptions about life.

“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.”

Richard P. Feynman

The moment you think you’ve arrived, you stop growing. Knowledge from yesterday doesn’t always serve us in the future. So, it pays to question your existing common knowledge and understanding of the world. That’s how you become a better version of yourself.

By opening yourself to new perceptions, you improve your chances of gaining more profound knowledge about yourself, the world and everything you care about.

“It is our capacity to doubt that will determine the future of civilization.”

Richard Feynman

Genuinely successful people acknowledge their ignorance and take action to learn and discover new things. A more thoughtful way to live is to consciously and deliberately learn better ways to make decisions, solve problems and reduce your chances of getting things wrong.

And that means remaining curious and taking ownership of your learning. It also means prioritising learning and making it a way of life.

Learning compounds, so you don’t have to commit a lot of time learning a new skill or topic. You can learn at your own pace — even if that means reading a few chapters every day or engaging with your content for a few minutes every day. Make it enjoyable, and you will sustain the learning habit.

The right knowledge can help you make more money, save time, get the job you want, build your passion project, explore better career paths, become an expert at what you do, make smarter life decisions and build a better life.

Lessons on Lifelong Learning From Einstein And Feynman (How to Acquire Skills For Life)