It’s probably been a little while since you went out of your way to learn something new, especially something that your employer didn’t require. Most people stop gathering new skills and facts as they age and instead focus on taking care of family, paying the bills, and handling whatever else the world comes up with.
But there is plenty of evidence suggesting that learning something new is interesting and good for your mental wellbeing and happiness. Whether it’s picking up a new hobby or learning about a new subject, you stand to gain all kinds of benefits if you can carve out a little time to pick up something new.
You’ll Gain Confidence
Gaining knowledge and skills improves self-confidence. Studies show you will be able to take on new tasks either at work or at home when you add a new skill. Others will likely seek your advice, and you will generally feel more capable and confident, too. Plus, the simple feeling of knowing that you set out to achieve a goal and did so will give you a sense of accomplishment that bolsters self-esteem.
You’ll Become More Curious
When you’re busy learning something new, especially something that you find interesting, you’ll naturally pique your curiosity. Research shows that curious people feel more positive emotions, less anxiety, and are overall more satisfied with life and the world around them. In short, they find more enjoyment in their day-to-day lives because curious people tend to see the novelty in the world around them.
You’ll Find Connection
One of the most obvious benefits of learning something new is the increased chance for connection with others. If the skill you’re seeking to learn requires you to attend a class or workshop, you’re likely to find other people with similar interests. A shared interest in a subject is one of the most common foundations for friendships and can lead you to new connections that you might not otherwise have had. One of the challenging things about adulthood for many people is finding new friends, as it simply doesn’t come as easy as it did in college or earlier in life. Learning a new skill can help you change that.
You’ll Challenge Yourself
By learning a new skill, you’re challenging yourself in new ways. We often think of challenges as negative experiences to be coped with. But challenging yourself mentally to expand your thinking and master a task is great for your brain health and mental wellbeing. This is because challenging your mind strengthens it, which a Duke University study showed helps reduce anxiety and depression.
Many skills allow you to create something from nothing. For example, with gardening, you begin with nothing more than seeds, soil, and water. But you can grow your very own harvest with some time, attention, and sunshine. With more creative pursuits like drawing or photography, you’re actively flexing your creative muscles. Creating improves mental and physical health by giving you an outlet for feelings that otherwise might build up and weigh you down emotionally.
Whatever new skill or subject you choose to learn, you might be surprised by how much it benefits you. You’ll gain a new skill that you can employ in useful ways in your life. And the arguably greater benefit is an overall improvement in your peace of mind and enjoyment in life and the world around you.