Bob Dylan is my all-time favorite recording artist. I think he’s tuned into the english language like no other popular entertainer since Shakespeare. I have this picture framed on my bookshelf to remind me to learn something new everyday. Another famous song he as is “It’s alright ma (I’m only bleeding).” In it he issues the famous line:
He not busy being born is busy dying.
Life lessons from the greatest poet of the 21st century. I try and apply this to my life. Learn something everyday– or the poetic version– get born. I try and get born in anyway I can. Whether it’s learning a new skill or some new bit of information that makes my life better.
Why should one learn something new everyday? What is it’s purpose (practical application) and why is it important (symbolic application)? First off, let us say that it’s not necessarily learning new facts for the sake of learning. Knowledge without practical application in one’s life can be a lovely thing, but not necessarily important to your day to day happiness. Take the news. You’d do well to stay informed on general topics in the world like the Arab spring or the deficit. This helps in conversation and staying informed about the general state of your country is a useful thing come voting time. However, if they have no immediate and practical gain for yourself (and especially if they only bring angst and unhappiness) they can be eliminated. There is a lot of noise in the headlines of a newspaper or cnn.com. I realized that hearing about another stoning of a woman in afghanistan doesn’t help my life in any way– it just makes me sad. This may seem a bit anti-society and in disagreement with what you’ve been taught most of your life, but when I examined my life I chose to drown out most of the noise. All it did was depress me and delay me from doing things I cared about. So I made a change and now rarely check the headlines over at CNN. This is what living deliberately is all about. Examining your life, trying to minimize the noise that you find useless, and go about living how you would like to live.
Symbolically, however, learning something new and ‘being born’ everyday keeps you alive. It gives you purpose. To know the world better than you did the day before is something you can strive for each and every day and a reason to leave the bed in the morning. It’s about committing to bettering your understanding of the nature of reality and the universe. That seems a bit deep, but when you commit to it your life has more purpose. Every man gets to choose his own meaning in this life. One of mine is to get born all-dey-eredey.
So how does one “get born?” It’s not too difficult if you just commit to it. It is very simple, but simple does not necessarily mean easy. For starters, commit 30 minutes of your day to learning about something new, reading, listening to a podcast, or going on youtube and watching some how-to videos (there is one for everything). I have two alarms set on my phone for reading time. I also have a general rule to try and have a conversation with a stranger every day (a good rule of thumb is if you’re standing within 5 feet of someone, say hello). Here is a nice and friendly bullet list of some hacks I use to get born everyday”
- Set your homepage url to the “random article” function of Wikipedia [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/special:random]. Often useless, but kinda fun.
- Set an alarm for reading for 30 minutes at 7:00 pm every night (time is irrelevant, just make sure it’s the same everyday– I do 2:00 pm and 1:00 am right before bed).
- Listen to Podcasts while you workout or drive instead of music (unless it’s bob dylan).
- I remember Bill Nye saying something like: everyone you meet knows something you don’t. This is especially true if you meet Bill Nye. Keep that in mind when you meet any new human.
- Ask open ended questions instead of yes/no questions. “Why” and “What’s that like” are your friends when you’re having a conversation.
- Subscribe to reddit.com/r/todayilearned (a lot of this information is useless and trivial, but is usually entertaining at the very least).
- Read biographies of people who are smarter than you. Teddy, Ben, Seneca, Marcus Aurelius. Plus, if you have a kindle, a lot of those are free!
- During a lunch break, watch things on youtube like Big Think, Khan Academy, or TED talks. Expand that knowledge whilst expanding that waist line!
Now get out there and get born!