Learning is a huge part of life. Our younger years are spent learning what we need to know to get us through adulthood, but have you ever stopped to think about how you learn?
One of Jay Shetty’s favorite quotes is from Alvin Toffler. “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write. But those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”
“We've been expected to learn our whole lives,” explains Jay Shetty. “We've been expected to learn quickly, but we never learn how to learn.”
Why is continuous learning important? Jay Shetty shares that it is the disadvantages of not learning that energizes a person more than knowing about the advantages of education.
We are triggered by the response of not wanting to do it badly. We want to do it right.
The mind learns in four unique ways. In this article, Jay Shetty unpacks those four methods and shares how you can strengthen your focus by learning how you learn best.
Learning and Boredom
The opposite of learning is boredom.
A British study concluded that boredom could be dangerous to your health1. People in the study who reported being bored had twice the rate of heart disease than those who did not report being bored. Boredom occurs when you are not learning new things.
Boredom affects so many people, and Jay Shetty says you can chalk it up to a lack of learning. When you are bored, you feel stuck or stagnant, so you procrastinate or overthink things. When you get stuck in that spiral, it is hard to get out of it.
Learning is about moving forward, creating momentum, and busting through boredom. Albert Einstein said, “Once you stop learning, you start dying.” When you stop learning, your brain begins to shrink.
An article by Brian Wang finds that practicing a new skill increases the density of your myelin sheath or the white matter in your brain, which helps improve performance on several tasks.2
According to the article, learning new skills stimulates neurons in the brain, which forms more neural pathways and allows electrical impulses to travel faster across them. Combining these two things helps you learn better and can even help you avoid or delay dementia.
When was the last time you learned something new? Learning is rarely continuous as you get older, but Jay Shetty says there is a great need to continue to learn every day. Look to your job or your relationships for opportunities to learn. Take a class online or in person. As technology advances at a blazing pace, careers change every day.
“It's incredible to think of how technology will replace so many roles in jobs,” Jay Shetty explains. “There are so many careers that exist today that will disappear in the next 10 years, so there is such a need for us to be continuous learners. It's so important.”
You may be thinking to yourself, ‘I have tried to understand and learn more, but it is a struggle.’ Maybe you dislike reading. It is just not your thing, so you correlate it all into learning, and your dislike for reading carries over to learning in general.
People associate the word learning with school or college. Maybe you didn’t like school or struggled in your classes. You built your relationship with learning around school because that is where you learned. School was not built for different learning styles, so it’s no wonder that association grew.
Don’t give up, urges Jay Shetty. Everyone learns differently, but most people never know what their learning style is.
Different Learning Styles
There are four different types of learning styles according to the VARK model of learning. VARK is the acronym used to refer to these different styles, and it stands for Visual, Aural, Read/Write, and Kinesthetic3. Finding your own learning style will benefit you in everything you do.
If you are in a position of authority, knowing the learning style of your employees, colleagues, clients, team, or students will allow for better communication. Better communication makes things easier for everyone.
But how do you know what learning style you are? Jay Shetty says you should reflect on when you learn best. This will build your confidence in your ability to learn.
Remember, just because you learn best one way does not mean you can’t learn in other ways too. Strengthen the area you learn best in and learn how to use the different learning styles in addition to the one you favor.
The first learning style is visual. They need to see something to learn and remember things. Visual learners like to look at charts, graphs, doodles, drawings, or images.
Jay Shetty admits he is a visual learner. He recalls photocopying inspirational quotes and chapters of books or paragraphs that inspired him and taping them to his walls when he was younger so that they could be in front of him.
The second learning style is aural, or auditory, which means learning through listening.
Jay Shetty believes that auditory learning is an incredible technique because it is something that you can do while you are engaged in other activities, like running, cooking, or driving. Podcasts and audiobooks are becoming very popular because people can still listen and learn while doing other things. Jay Shetty calls this educational multitasking.
It is essential to recognize if you are an auditory learner to help you stay engaged when people are talking to you.
Reading and Writing
The third style of learning is reading and writing. Jay Shetty says you might be a reading and writing learner if you need to read along or take notes when you are listening to something. Maybe you like to highlight passages when you read or copy something from a book you are reading to help remember it.
If this describes you, you’re likely a reading and writing learner. Putting pen to paper is a technique that strengthens your ability to learn.
The fourth learning type is kinesthetic, or interactive learning. A kinesthetic learner likes to have something to do with their hands or feet as they use their mind. Being actively involved and seeing things happen makes a difference for them. Using a Rubik’s cube or creating pottery are good examples of kinesthetic learning.
“If you've seen the viral videos of the teachers who teach degrees and angles based on where the door is when you're walking into a classroom, it is interactive things like that that bring it all together for kinesthetic learners,” explains Jay Shetty.
In addition to the VARK types of learning, there are other aspects that can help you increase your ability to learn. These include knowing whether or not you are a solitary or a social learner, the use of repetition, and making it practical.
Solitary Vs. Social Learner
Are you a solitary or a social learner?
If you are a solitary learner, you learn better alone or in silence. If you are a social learner, you learn best in collaboration with others. Reflect on the last time you understood something. Were you learning in a private setting, or did you retain it better because you were in a group discussing it?
When you recognize the setting in which you learn best and use that to help you learn, you have an advantage others may not.
Psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus said, “Twenty-four hours after learning something, we forget two-thirds of it.”4
Why would you ever want to spend time learning if you will forget most of it within a day? Take heart, it may not be gone forever!
Hermann Ebbinghaus also states, “Items forgotten can be relearned faster than new ones.”
If you read something but forgot about it, then reread it. You’ll be more likely to remember it. It takes an average of seeing something seven times to retain it. This is why repetition and practice are so important.
“Think of repetition as strengthening,” Jay Shetty shares. “We think of repetition as having to do something because you failed last time – that's why you have to do it again. But if you really want to remember it, doing it again makes it powerful.”
There is a misconception that if you don’t learn something the first time, your memory is weak or you’re not smart. The truth is, repetition is what creates long-term memory.
Make it Practical
Learning goes beyond just having a good memory. It includes the practical, everyday skills that help us learn in different ways.
Do you find yourself asking your partner to take out the trash every week but feel like they aren’t listening to you? You are trying to teach them through auditory memory, hoping they will learn from hearing your voice, but maybe your partner is a visual learner and needs visual reminders. Leave a note near the trash can or write it down in a planner.
The issue is not that your partner is not listening. It may be that they learn differently from what you are telling them. Knowing each other’s style of learning can help eliminate misunderstandings and hurt.
Next time you want to remember something, make it meaningful. Think about how you can personally connect it to yourself or how it applies to your life. Applied learning is the best learning. When you share something you've learned or teach it and use it in your life, you retain it much better.
Many people are feeling bored, uninspired, and have lost their passion. It all comes back to learning. Learning and curiosity are boredom busters.
More From Jay Shetty
Listen to the entire On Purpose with Jay Shetty podcast episode on “4 Ways Your Mind Learns and How to Strengthen Your Focus” now in the iTunes store or on Spotify. For more inspirational stories and messages like this, check out Jay’s website at jayshetty.me.