The Benefits of Lifetime Learning

I have three kids. My middle one, her name is Hannah, she's 18 years old. She came to me and said, "Dad, you stopped learning."

The Benefits of Lifetime Learning

Well, okay, so I have to go back and explain what happened. I wrote this book, “Soul in a Game, The Art of Meaningful Life.” About one-third of this book is devoted to chapters on Stoic philosophy. I had this idea while preparing for a podcast that was going to focus on Stoic philosophy. Even though the book came out two years ago, I finished writing it about three and a half years ago.

I was walking in the park and listening to the audiobook version of this book, specifically the chapters on Stoics. Being so far removed from writing the book, with three and a half years having passed, I listened to the Stoic chapters and thought, “Wow, this is very good.” I know it sounds immodest coming from the author, but the reaction was genuine because I was listening to the book as a reader, not the writer. This led me to the idea of taking the Stoic chapters from the book and turning them into a small book about Stoics.

I discussed this idea with Hannah, and her reaction stunned me. I didn’t know what to say, so I went for a walk in the park to think about it. When I came back home, I told Hannah, “I’m so proud of you.” I was proud of her because she demonstrated a growth mindset, a student-of-life mindset. She thought I was just going back to what I was comfortable with and that by doing so, I wouldn’t be learning. There’s some truth to that. The fact that she had this thought at 18 years old made me realize that my wife and I had done something right in raising her.

I also realized that it takes a special relationship with your kids for them to feel comfortable coming to you and telling you such things. It reminded me of the relationship I had with my father, where he was fine being vulnerable about the mistakes he made. That vulnerability made it comfortable for me to share my honest opinions about what he was doing, even if they were critical. I would argue that it’s very important to have this kind of relationship with your kids.

Another insight I gained from this is that it’s okay to increase the density of your knowledge. In other words, while you always want to grow and conquer new frontiers, it’s also okay to go back and relearn old things. This is important because when I read about Stoic philosophers three or four years ago, it was a different version of me reading those texts. When I read them today, I’m four years older with four years of new experiences. Therefore, my understanding of those concepts may be different, and I may gain new insights. I think there is absolutely nothing wrong with doing both: moving forward and sometimes going back to revisit things.

At the end of the conversation with Hannah, I showed her about 30,000 words of new essays that I’ve written over the last year but haven’t published yet. After seeing this, Hannah said, “Okay, Dad, it’s okay for you to publish the new book about Stoics.” I don’t know if I’ll ever publish that book, but if you want to learn about Stoics, about one-third of “Soul in a Game” is devoted to discussing them, should you decide to study the subject.

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