Lifelong learning is a form of self-initiated education. Typically, it is focused on personal development, but it covers all topics on which you want to educate yourself. It can be learning physical skills, mental skills, or a bit of both. While there is no standardized definition of lifelong learning, it has generally been taken to refer to the learning that occurs outside of a formal educational institute, such as a school, university, or corporate training. 

It recognizes that people have a natural drive to explore, learn and grow and encourages you to improve your own quality of life and sense of self-worth by paying attention to the ideas and goals that inspire you. This is part of what it means to be human: you either have a natural curiosity or you can awaken it in you. If you say that you are not good at learning, you are lying. You are an innate ability to learn over and over. If you are alive, you continually learn. It is how you live day by day. Even our pets learn! We develop and grow thanks to our ability to learn regularly. 

For example, when I was out of the hospital after almost six weeks after the strokes happened, I transitioned to a subacute care facility for three weeks. Two strokes, two days apart, were the cause. In this first year, I needed to learn what I used to do unconsciously and by second nature. I had jumped into relearning what I had known during my initial rehabilitation period. I found that I could cope with a little bite of rehabilitation in the early days after the strokes.

When I became stronger and the healing was undergoing, I did more rehab. You will always hear from the “experts” that if you do not improve in the 90 days after the stroke, you will not heal. For example, Johns Hopkins stroke rehabilitation specialist April Pruski, M.D., explains that “(t)he first three months after a stroke are the most important for recovery and when patients will see the most improvement…” I say horse hockey! 

Because every stroke is different, there is no set pattern for recovering from one. The quickest recovery takes place in the days and weeks after a stroke. In fact, recovery continues for months and years after a stroke if you want it to continue. You lose or not regain a function often when you do not challenge or use it. That is what I have found. I improve every year. It is lifelong learning for me and it can be for you.

Lifelong learning does not restrict itself to informal learning. The best way is voluntary and achieve personal fulfillment. The fulfillment can be for your interest or it can pursue another career or a new business. By adopting the attitude of a curious child, you act in awe and amazement as you explore new frontiers. Ask yourself new questions from the child’s standpoint. It is important that you actively listen to the answers you get. If you investigate new directions and avenues, you will get different and novel answers that you have never studied before. It can be so enriching and you will be amazed at what is out there.

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