Telomeres are strings on the end of a DNA chain. The longer the telomere string, the healthier and longer the cell lives. The reverse is also true, shorten the telomere string, and death and sickness occur. There are a ton of peer-reviewed resources that can explain, detail, and expound about telomeres; feel free to look them up; please accept for the moment the statement is true. While I am not going much further into telomeres and DNA science, the fact that long telomere strings and living healthier and happier are important correlational pieces of data essential to the rest of this article.
Learning and having a purpose are two separate but conjoined variables essential to keep the telomere string long and the DNA healthy. However, both purpose and learning are individual choices with physical health consequences. Please note, these two choices are not a magic bullet to the fountain of youth, nor are they going to change a person’s health overnight. Both take long hours of investment and require a lifestyle change.
We begin with some important history. John Dewey was an American philosopher, psychologist, and educational reformer whose ideas have been influential in education and social reform. He was one of the most prominent American scholars in the first half of the twentieth century. In the 1900s, Dewey established how free people and free societies are built; they are built upon education and literacy. Dewey then changed education to halt literacy and started a ball of ignorance and government theft of freedoms to begin. Your reading habits were carefully taught to you during your trip through K-12 government schools. Unless you purposefully chose to read, you will generally possess a dislike for reading that was taught to you to keep you functionally illiterate, thus programmable to government propaganda. Dewey’s plan succeeded far and above his wildest dreams.
With this understanding, when the topic of lifelong learning is discussed, the central point becomes formal education failed purposefully to teach; thus, one’s desire for learning must be an internal commitment — a personal appetite for books, knowledge, and a thirst for learning. When discussing the life and health-changing aspects of learning, this is the point, what are you doing to learn something new every day? What was the last book you read? Did you enjoy it? Would you recommend it?
K-12 education taught you that learning something new was somebody else’s responsibility; whereas, the truth is precisely the opposite. What you choose to learn will have direct consequences upon your health, mental and physical. Hence the need for purpose. Many people can study aimlessly and never fully obtain the full mental and physical health promises because they lack a purpose, a reason, and a motivating reason to direct efforts. For example, I met a retired Major of the US Air Force; he pursued his MBA because he needed it for promotion. No other purpose, no reason other than his career, and no genuine interest. That he topped out at Major and Retired less than his desired rank goal ruined him from learning anything else. He sits at home, lacking a purpose and reason, miserable. He has not touched a book to read in years, his TV is his link to the world, and he feels like a failure. In remembering my friend, I often think to weep at what could have been.
A purpose is all about intention, a goal for which one intends, cognitively, to achieve. A burning passion, a deep hunger, a longing, purpose, as a word, has many synonyms, but the end goal is the same, “What is it you want most?” One of the reasons I am such a fan of Pirates of the Caribbean is the compass held by Captain Jack Sparrow. The compass works when the captain knows what he wants, sailing is easier, and progress is made. Failure to understand what he wants, to know absolutely his purpose, and the journey fails, chaos abounds, and trouble ensues.
Because purpose inspires learning, and both purpose and learning are fundamental to your good mental and physical health, the following suggestions are here for your consideration. However, they also come with a warning, genuine interest. I have an interest in a lot of different topics. Sometimes, I have so many books I am in the middle of my desk looks like a public library threw up! However, I also have topics that I have less than zero interest in ever pursuing. I have had to learn where my genuine interests lie, primarily through exploring. No one can give you wisdom or tell you what your interests are.
Funny story, I discovered I had no interest in art. None! Paintings, sculpture, drawing, nothing. No comprehension, no interest, no desire, nothing! I discovered this during my associate’s degree, where I was forced to take an art class. Now, I come from a long line of painters, sculptors, artists in different mediums. My wife draws, paints, and makes music as an outlet for her artistic abilities. I can barely doodle and generally do not care to try. I know what I like but cannot describe the why when it comes to art because I have no interest in the how. Hence the warning, discover where your genuine interests lay and pursue them relentlessly!
- Explore to discover your interests. Public libraries are my best friend! I have been in some public libraries to borrow baking pans and molds to create different stuff for cooking. Get to know your public library as the launch point for discovering interests.
- Ever think you might like to pursue a degree in something. Why not contact your local community colleges and universities. Auditing a class is a great way to check your interest levels without investing money.
- How do you know when you have found a hidden interest; the secret is in your enthusiasm! Do you cheer to be able to study that topic? Guess what, you found an interest! Explore that interest to the Nth degree. I discovered an interest in anthropology, economics, sociology, and psychology through studying history. I have always been enthused to learn history. However, the extra information gleaned from economics, anthropology, sociology, and psychology has made my enthusiasm for history deeper, more enjoyable, and more meaningful. Measure your enthusiasm, you can become enthused easily and quickly, or slowly and with difficulty, but your enthusiasm is the compass for your interest and purpose.
- Volunteer to work with kids! I do not care about the age of the children. It doesn’t matter if that volunteering occurs through a religious or non-profit organization, kids ask questions, and in asking questions, you learn. Create time to volunteer.
- On the topic of volunteering, spend time in a long-term care facility as a professional listener. I have spent some great days listening to people, I have learned a lot, and let me tell you, I always leave the experience grateful and enthused. Memorize a joke as a conversation starter, and listen.
- Don’t stop! I cannot emphasize this principle enough. Failure is part of discovery; not stopping is part of discovery. Hence, do not stop trying, and in not stopping, you will discover… you!
My wife is a journal writer. I blog — others in my family webcast. The final suggestion in discovering purpose and learning, write down the experiences. The good, the bad, the failures, the successes, and in writing or recording your thoughts, you will discover new talents and inspire someone else when you share your thoughts. I learned this lesson from Robert Fulghum, the author, artist, preacher, and storyteller, who happened to write the book “Everything I need to know I learned in Kindergarten.” Want a guide on this voyage of discovery; pick up some of his books, “Uh-Oh,” “It was on fire when I laid down on it,” “Maybe, Maybe Not,” and so many others to choose from. Mr. Fulghum makes an excellent guide on a voyage of discovery; take along an expert!
© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
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