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By David Robson

作者: 除夜卫.罗伯森


Although our ability to easily pick up a new skill declines with age, harnessing a specific type of mindset can help you learn effectively as an +++++.


Tom Vanderbilt’s fascination with the process of life-long learning began with his daughter’s hobbies: piano, soccer, Tae Kwon Do. He wanted to encourage her new pursuits, and accompanied her to the lessons or tournaments. As she exercised her mind, he would answer emails, play with his phone or stare into space until his daughter had finished.


Starting with chess lessons, he decided to spend a year pursuing a range of new skills himself. He learnt to sing, draw, juggle and surf. At no point did he hope to fully master the abilities or to show off his prowess with an extraordinary feat, such as winning American Idol.


“As +++++s, we instantly put pressure on ourselves with goals,” he says. “We feel like we don&39;s no end of the road – and that's very daunting to them.” He found that his drawing, for example, had improved significantly in the time that it would normally take to binge-watch a TV boxset.

范德比尔特建议,假定你遭到了鼓舞想从事一项新的消遣活动的话,那就从一项随便融进你现有糊口编制的活动最早。你大年夜大年夜约会对本身的进步速度感应诧异的。“可是良多人认为这只是一项宏除夜的时分投资,没有绝顶,所以这会让他们看而生畏。” 比如,他创作创造他把本来但凡用来看电视的时分投资到绘画此后,他的绘画程度有了较着的进步。

The why factor


You may still wonder why you should make the effort, when you could be vegging out on your sofa.


But Vanderbilt points out that there are many general benefits to embracing any new skill – including some long-term brain changes that could offset some of the mental decline that often comes with ageing. Vanderbilt points to one study of +++++s – aged 58 to 86 – who pursed a handful of courses in subjects like Spanish, music, composition and painting. After a few months, they had not only made good progress in the individual skills, but also showed a pronounced improvement on more general cognitive tests – matching the performance of +++++s who were 30 years younger.


Intriguingly, the benefits here seemed to come from trying out multiple skills, rather than focusing exclusively on one particular expertise. As Vanderbilt writes in his book: “Rather than grinding out a marathon, you are putting your brain through a variety of high-intensity interval workouts. Each time you begin to learn that new skill, you’re reshaping. You’re training your brain again to be more efficient.” We tend to see the ‘dilettante’ as someone who is superficial and lacks dedication. But it seems that the jack of all trades – the perpetual beginner – may have a sharper brain than the master of one single ability.

滑稽的是,这些益处似乎得益于考验考验多种技能,而不是只专注于一种特定的技能。正如范德比尔特在他的书中所写的那样:“你不是在辛苦地跑马拉松,而是在让你的除夜脑举办各类高强度的间歇性锤炼。” 每次你最进步先辈修新技能时,你都在重塑。你同时也在操练你的除夜脑,从而让它变得更有效率。” 我们偏向于把“专业欢欣乐乐喜悦爱好者”看作是陋劣、窘蹙供献精力的人。但似乎永远的初学者,这些所谓的“万事通”大年夜大年夜约比只掌控一种身手的人具有更活络的除夜脑。

The lifelong pursuit of many different interests may even increase your creativity. As David Epstein also noted in his book Range, Nobel laureates were many times more likely to have enjoyed artistic pursuits such as music, dance, visual art or creative writing than other scientists.


As you set about learning a new skill, there will be frustrations and moments of failure – but these may in fact be the most important experiences of the whole process. After years of experience in journali++, Vanderbilt says that the new challenges were a welcome change to his “professional complacency”. “It sort of opened my mind and brought me back to this sense of not knowing,” he says. This was especially true for the skills – such as drawing – that already felt somewhat familiar. “The learning of the thing itself was often different from what I imagined. My expectations were constantly being upset.”


Abundant research has shown that intellectual humility – the capacity to recognise the limits of our knowledge – can powerfully improve our thinking and decision ***. And that capacity to reconsider our preconceptions and open our minds to new ways of thinking may be increasingly important in today’s rapidly changing world. Whether we are learning for pleasure or attempting to boost our professional skills, we could all do well to cultivate that “beginners’ mindset”, where nothing is certain, and there is everything to learn.