Lifelong Learning And The Postgraduate Student

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Henry Ward Beecher states that "It is not what we read, but what we remember that makes us learned. It is not what we intend, but what we do that makes us useful. And, it is not a few faint wishes, but a lifelong struggle that makes us valiant." The ability to learn is one of the most powerful gifts that God granted for human beings. Learning is a lifelong process, there is no certain age for learning; there will always be something new to learn. Nowadays, in this continuously changing and merging universe, people must learn and acquire real life skills, normally referred to these days as 21st century skills. There are a multitude of effective life skills that one could contemplate, but the ones we have studied as postgraduate students are the skills that anyone can master to some extent that alleviate their way through life. They are like water that grants life to human bodies.

The life skills that will be presented in this essay are essential and can be applied with equal effectiveness to a wide variety of areas in our lives, such as relationships, business, friendships, money, marriage and so on. And although these useful life skills are probably better acknowledged in today's world, they have been around since the first light of humanity, and have been used by man either consciously or unconsciously ever since. Perception of events, listening, creativity, problem solving, dealing with stress, time management, self enhancement, and so on are life skills that man has learned, developed and used throughout his/her life to achieve success, make great fortunes, and to improve his/her own life as well as the lives of those around him.

Moreover, by knowing the importance of some of these vital life skills and applying them in your daily life, you will start seeing the world in a different light. Obstacles become chances, and the unattainable become attainable. Your life will become alive again.

Certainly to be aware of the existence of these essential life skills is one thing and to apply them on regular basis to affect your life positively is another thing. It is not simple to apply, because we are dealing with conceptual knowledge and beliefs, at the beginning it will take some effort to maintain the concentration necessary to utilise these life skills in your everyday life, until it becomes a habit. The rewards you will get in life definitely deserve the effort. The proposed study will discuss briefly some useful life skills and how they can have a profound effect on your life.

First, let us start with one of the most effective skills, your perception of events and different situations in life. Your interpretation of events influences your reaction which in turn forms an outcome. The secret is to train your mind to think twice and consider how best to observe the event and then to propose the right response. This response will always have better results than your initial response. What you perceive is a reflection of your beliefs. If you believe that life is hopeless, then you will perceive failure and despair. You need to focus on the bigger picture and look at the situation from a different angle and a positive point of view. Dalai Lama states that "Although you may not always be able to avoid difficult situations, you can modify the extent to which you suffer by how you choose to respond to the situation."

Another vital skill is listening. Are you a good listener? Human beings are born with two functioning ears to hear with, but unfortunately, not many really involve their God-given hearing devices. Effectual listening can help ease pressure at work, or an unsteady personal relationship. You show respect when you listen to someone speaking, it can build someone's self-confidence by listening. Listening is not about oneself, it's about other people. Listening is not only with your ears, but with your mind as well. There are some techniques to show that you are a good listener, one of them is your body language, by bending forward towards the person speaking, and looking the speaker in the eye. Another important technique is to use interjections for example saying "aha, hmm, I see what you mean….etc", to show interest and that you are concentrating. Also, paraphrasing works well, repeating what you have heard in your own words shows that you are not only listening, but thinking and trying to understand what the speaker is saying. Listening is a crucial and highly valuable skill that can really enrich your understanding of life.

Another skill that is greatly influential on your future is Creativity. Creativity is the key to success. Thinking in a creative way gives you happiness, self-discovery, energy and uniqueness. All progress and innovation in the world is the result of new findings achieved by people who wanted to change the world and thought out of the box. One doesn't have to be special in order to be creative, everyone has it. Here are some ways to resurrect your creativity. Be inquisitive about the world around you, ask questions, explore, seek multiple answers, think from a different perspective, do not let traditions control your thinking, read in different topics, imagine lives of other people, consider diversity in viewpoints, maintain a healthy life style, and meditate. Creativity starts with believing in oneself, then use your imagination and finally be confident enough to apply your creative thoughts. Creativity and problem solving are inseparable skills. By applying creative thinking when dealing with any problem, you will be able to detect, analyse and solve the problem. Practicing creative thinking in daily life can lead to a bright successful future.

Equally important and interrelated skills are both dealing with stress and time management. First, you need to understand what stress is and how to handle it. Stress is the body's response to a change that entails a physical or mental adjustment. Impact of stress depends on our perception of events. Stress leads to many negative effects that could be either short or long-termed. It can affect your body and health in so many ways i.e. headaches, lack of sleep and appetite, fatigue, moodiness, depression…etc. One should be aware of his/her stressors, the best way is to keep a daily log of what caused your stress, how did you react physically and emotionally, and finally what steps did you take to relief your stress. Keeping track of your stressors, will help you to manage your stress, it's all about controlling it; controlling your thoughts, perceptions, emotions, dealing with conflicts, and time schedule. Now, let's discuss how smart time management can help you get more tasks done every day, which will eventually lessen your stress and improve your life quality. Time is a resource, we should utilize it the best way we can. Here are some strategies that can assist you in taking charge of your time. Start by prioritizing your duties based on what you need to do, when, and how long each task will take, then develop your to-do list. Learn to delegate; consider passing some tasks to someone else, whether at home or at work. Wise delegation will give you more time for yourself. Focus on essential tasks, follow your goals and always ask yourself "Am I doing the right thing on the right time, how essential is this task to my goals?" Keep yourself away from distractions i.e. phone, visitors, e-mails…etc when working on critical issues. Create time for yourself to do something you like i.e. listen to music, take a walk, read, or even do nothing, just sit and clear your mind.

Finally, self enhancement is the core of all the previous skills. It's the skill that makes all the others viable. It preserves and improves your greatest asset - YOU. The means to self improvement is to renew the four dimensions of one's nature; physical, spiritual, mental, and social/emotional. The physical dimension is about caring for your body. Eating healthy, getting sufficient rest, and exercising regularly will positively affect your self-esteem, and self-confidence. As for renewing the spiritual dimension, it allows you to be in charge of your life. Spiritual renewal can be through meditation, reading, listening to music…etc. Mental development at early years comes through formal education. Continuous education, reading, and exploring new subjects are fundamental mental renewals. The last dimension is the social/emotional renewal, it's all about interpersonal leadership and relationships with others. Renewing our social/emotional dimension needs practice in our daily interactions with others; we should accept and understand different opinions, live in harmony with the community, and feel our self-worth by providing service to our neighbours and community. N. Eldon Tanner has said, "Service is the rent we pay for the privilege of living on this earth."

In conclusion, nothing good happens without gumption. It's your choice, whether to be proactive and make the right things happen or be reactive and observe as things happen to you. You must first make the choice to be happy and start to improve your life. Happiness can be attained by consistently applying the life skills you have learned. Although the best choice is not always the easiest choice, yet the amount of happiness we get is determined by our choices in life. So, take the initiative and be in control of your life, believe in your power and change your life for the better.