Life-long learners more mentally fit to navigate daily life

Working a MOOC or two into your lifestyle may also improve your financial health

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CALGARY, AB, Apr 11, 2015/ Troy Media/ – Are you looking for a way to learn without quitting your day job or chalking up debt? Then you might want to a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) offered through a platform such as Coursera, UdaCity or edX. MOOCs are perfect for people who want to learn, but who don’t have schedules or wallets to sign up for traditional classroom learning.

Originally designed to provide opportunities for learners in the third world, MOOCs have taken Europe, North American and Australasia by storm. They offer you a chance to explore anything from liberal arts to computer programming to accounting for free. Better yet, they give you an opportunity to learn about subjects that interest you from professors at some of the best universities around the world.

Life-long learners make better decisions

While you won’t usually gain university credit or a degree from taking MOOCs, working a MOOC or two into your lifestyle may improve your financial health over the long-term, even if the courses you take aren’t related to your day job.

That’s because the better you are at making decisions and coping with the challenges of life, including navigating the workplace, the more likely you are to achieve financial wellness. While it’s fine to focus on marketable trades and practical professional information, courses that aren’t related to your day job can also boost your earning ability.

We all have friends and family who tell us not to waste money studying subjects that don’t directly relate to making money. They mean well, but they are only seeing half the story.

life-long learners
Life-long learners tend to be less fat

According to a 2013 study published by U.S.-based College Board, Education Pays 2013: The Benefits of Higher Education for Individuals and Society, the people around us who discount the importance of higher learning in the fine arts or liberal arts in increased earning potential often focus on short-term financial rewards. However, “long-term benefits of investing in post-secondary education exceed the costs, not just for society but also for the individual students who are bearing an increasing portion of the cost of their own education,” say the researchers. Those benefits grow stronger over a lifetime, with every new learning adventure you embark on.

For one thing, continuing education correlates with lower obesity and a healthy lifestyle. The more we learn, the better we are at making decisions.

Research shows that our brains develop throughout our lifetime, pruning, strengthening, and building synapses and neural connections to ensure we keep getting better at navigating our environment.

For example, Benefits of Lifelong Learning (BeLL), funded by the European Union, found life-long learners more mentally fit to navigate daily life. It’s results demonstrated that adult education in Liberal Studies correlates positively with improved mental health and better coping with social challenges. Other studies demonstrate that lifelong learning helps ward off dementia. The Rush Memory and Aging Project found cognitively active seniors 2.6 times less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and dementia than their less mentally challenged peers.

There’s no doubt that exercising your brain is as crucial as lifting weights in staying healthy. In fact, mental fitness may be more important in ensuring you earn a living and make financially sound decisions. Without it, you can’t learn new skills, contribute to the workplace, or create a sound spending and savings plan.

Your bring will thank you

Lifelong learning plays a key role in increasing your ability to earn and retain your wealth, and internet platforms delivering MOOCs make learning from academics around the world more accessible than signing up for an evening class at the community college down the road. Best of all, you won’t have to quit your day job, find a babysitter, deplete your savings or take out a loan!

Go ahead: learn a new language, study history, hone business skills, or explore science and the Liberal Arts more accessible. Your brain will thank you, and so will your budget.

Jane Harris-Zsovan offers her readers practical money advice for the real world. Jane is the author of Eugenics and the Firewall: Why Alberta’s UFA/Social Credit Legacy Matters to 21st Century Canadians.

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