The benefits of learning for pleasure

What is learning for pleasure?

To those of you who feel like your mind is about to explode with information – don’t look away yet, this could help you significantly. In the digital age we live in, we’re utterly overloaded with information. We’re bombarded daily and can sometimes become overwhelmed with burned out brains. When did learning become such a chore? We were all once little sponges for information and, if you look back to your five-year-old self, you’ll remember there was once much joy in learning.

As an adult, learning for pleasure is essential to keeping your mind alert and absorbent.  Learning something you love, without an end goal, something you’re incredibly passion about and that it’s ok not to master, has huge benefits to your well-being. Did you once love painting but buried your easel deep in the attic? Were you a budding novelist but lost your passion for penning after your college assignment? Or perhaps you’ve got a newfound interest in another language having turned into a frequent traveler? Whatever it is, here’s a few reasons why taking a leisure course could actually be good for you.

Increasing general learning ability and productivity

Studies have shown that when learning about something you are genuinely curious and passionate about; your brain absorbs and retains the information much faster. What’s more, using your brain in this way is like exercise for when you’re learning something you’re not so interested in. Finding a link between the two will help you absorb information in all capacities a lot more effectively. 

Reducing stress

Research by the Texas State University found that, particularly when learning creative subjects, levels of stress and anxiety reduce dramatically. So, if you’re feeling particularly fraught, taking yourself off to learn something you enjoy can help you calm down and benefit your work and personal life too.

Increases mood and energy

In an article for the New York Times, Dr Azizi, Chairman of the Department of Neurology at Temple University’s School of Medicine in Philadelphia, discusses the fact that when people do things that make them feel good, it activates an area of the brain that controls how we feel about life. So, taking your mind off of the monotony of daily life not only gives you a break from your worries and stress but, as a result, it actually stimulates the brain’s ‘septal zone’ which increases your mood and energy levels.

Boosts self-esteem and confidence

Branching out into different activities and with different people boosts confidence and self-esteem. It’s almost a way of proving to yourself that you’re able to leap out into the unknown and survive…without there being any real danger of course!

Networking and meeting new people

It’s not the main reason to do it, but you may find yourself surprised at the networking opportunities you come across. You never know, the person sat learning the tuba next to you might just be the perfect person to ask for advice about your career progression or even collaborate with in a professional capacity.

May lead to another pool of income

Realistically we’re not all going to be able to leave our jobs to sit in a coffee shop and become the next JK Rowling, but you just never know where your learning could lead. It shouldn’t be the focus of your extra-curricular education, as that adds an awful lot of pressure, but it’s not unheard of for people to develop a new skill that they can monetise. Maybe you’re so good at painting that you can sell your art. Maybe you become so good at a language that you can do some translating in your spare time. And maybe your latest ceramic creation is only just about good enough to display in your kitchen, but that’s ok – it’s meant to be a bit of fun.