What have you learned that has changed your life for the better?

Hi everyone.

Some friends and I are compiling a list of things we are going to learn, and thought that they may as well be useful/life changing things.

Firstly, I'd like to say, please be specific. Don't just say 'I studied history and it changed my life'. Say something like 'I studied European relations between 1933 and 1948, and it helped me to appreciate...'

I'd also like to make a request that nothing emotional should be said. Nothing like 'I learned that friends are the most important thing you can have', as we're looking for things that can be studied.

Thanks :D

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I'm a languages nerd, so I wouldn't trade my Latin and German lessons. The German's improved my grammar massively, and just learning a language has helped me to appreciate the miracle of communication, and how beautiful the intellectual structures humans create are. Also, I find that it is difficult to truly see someone as a human being until you are familiar with their language, as communication is the only way we can understand the reality of other people's lives.

Different people will learn different things from the same discipline

I learned about the interrelatedness of biomes.  What affects something way over here can reverberate through the whole biome to affect a totally new area on the other side.  I got this mostly through the study of Permaculture, the idea that humans can use existing natural relationships to grow plants easily and well in harsh/different environments, instead of forcing plants to grow in unnatural ways where they're not happy. 

"We accept the love we think we deserve".

That has recently changed my perspective about my own self-worth in a good way.

That's a quote from "The perks of being a wallflower", isn't it? I think I know what you mean. That line struck me as well. As did the whole story and Charlie especially, it is such a beautiful novel and there is so much truth in it!

I did some of my dissertation on the volunteers for the Spanish Civil War. Learning about how they went to fight for the cause of freedom against fascism, working together despite different political views (communist, socialist, leftist, anarchist etc), fighting together in the hope of stopping the fascist march across Europe, it really touched me. Knowing that they went to fight, even while their governments made enlisting illegal, made me think. These people risked everything for a different country. Because they believed in freedom, and they fought for that belief. 

It's summed up best, I think, in C. Day-Lewis's poem The Volunteer, and my favourite line - 'We came because our open eyes/Could see no other way'. 

This, and look into what people did to help persecuted peoples during the Holocaust. Both gave me hope in humanity. (sorry for the ramble)

the most important thing I recently learned is the idea that though change is inevitable, and that most of it is entirely outside of your control, your attitude towards said change is what ultimately decides where you stand in it's wake, and the options you have there-after. I've spent a lot of time blaming myself for things that were nowhere near my fault, and many sleepless nights wondering how I could have made a better choice, or how someone else has let me down. All of it was fruitless, I have to roll with the punches, instead of stubbornly trying to remain perfectly still while they hit me.

Not sure if that makes sense, I find it hard to vocalize these things sometimes!

I re-learned that space goes on forever. I knew that it was true, but I never really thought about it. I finally did and I found out how unimportant we are... at the same time we are so significant. If one of us didn't exist then the change would be insurmountable. Everything is precariously balanced and that is the way things are. I know i'm kind of rambling but that's what space makes me do.

Most important? Thats a tough one...I'd have to say my writing, or more like the ability to write. It seems to me that if you can't complete a sentence that can clearly communicate and idea to another person you should learn to by any means necessary.

Now that being said not all people have access to devices like a computer or even a pencil to practice this skill. I am saying that if you have the tools you should use them. Nothing irritates me more than one of my colleges asking me to prof read their work and its littered with bad word choices and grammar mistakes.

That I am usually wrong.

  • World religions - understanding the faiths of the world, where they came from and what they consist of is very important.
  • Aspects of history - World History in the cradle of civilization prior to 1500, Roman civilization, the plague, colonization of the Americas, your nation's history, the not oft spoken of horrendous acts of WWII (beyond the genocide of the holocaust), and nuclear history.
  • Aspects of science - basic biology, evolution and natural selection, everything you can conceive about the universe beyond us (black holes, how stars are created, etc.)
  • Literature and Grammar - classic literature, fables and faery tales (the foundations of literature), the "banned books," and grammar
  • Language - history of language and the components that link or separate languages as well as learning basics in more than one language if you can't learn another one fluently
  • Plants and Animals - what's poisonous, edible, or medicinal
  • Basic survival skills - how to make a fire, obtain clean water, build shelter, and safety (staying out of the sun, how to keep warm in cold climates or weather, etc)

This year I'm taking a human geography course, and it has truly lightened the way I look at our world (greatly thanks to the talented teacher). By understanding the world's many cultures and imagining life as the people of them, I've become less afraid of the world's expanses. For example, I used to buy into a lot of the 'Muslim' stereotypes appropriated by the U.S., but through a study in the ritual, the cuisine, the architecture, the culture of the people, I came to see it as something vibrant and historic. So, really, what I've learned is to experience the rest of the world through unbiased eyes and to appreciate the better sides of things.

I took a history class in college wherein the professor assigned us a paper that had to list, with examples, as many reasons for people leaving their native lands for other places that we could think of in only two pages. Sounds ridiculously simple, but it turned out to really change the way I think about things. At first, I was like, well, people venture away from their homes for money, for religious freedom - the typical things we think of. But the more I really thought about it, I found so many different reasons that it was really hard to keep this paper to only two pages. It made me start thinking about things in kind of a circular, revolutionary way: I began really looking at a problem from every angle possible. It's kind of hard to explain, but I've been grateful to my teacher ever since for teaching me to examine life in a deeper way.


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