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Learning to Unlearn as the Best Way to Learn New Things

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Albert Einstein famously remarked in a conversation with Heisenberg, he said “you know in the West, we’ve built a beautiful ship and in it, it has all the comforts.But the one thing it lacks is a compass and that’s why it remains unchaperoned with nothing to anchor it.” This paradox of our times was propounded by Dalai Lama when he said “We have wider freeways but narrow viewpoints. We have taller building but shorter temples.” The paradox of our times is that we have more degrees but less sense. More knowledge but less judgement. More experts but less solution. It was Marthin Luther King who said that “ the irony of our times is that we have guided missiles but misguided men.” We’ve split the atom but not our prejudice. We’re aiming for higher incomes but we have lower morals. So I’m hearing you ask, how do we bring about this change? How do we dissect the paradox that exist in our lives? And it starts by us, the each billions of us pressing a pause, pressing reset and then pressing play again. Taking a moment to become more conscious, taking a moment to speak with kindness and ease, taking a moment to shifting one’s perspective by changing the lenses through which one views the world.

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Just to really connect with people on a different level. This thinking out loud started with Einstein and I’ll track back to him when he actually said that the problems we have today can’t be solved with the same thinking that we used, when we once created them. So, we need to learn and unlearn. We need to deep down dig into those ancient books of wisdom. We need to go back to understanding if anything written in those creased pages of time can actually reveal more knowledge and more wisdom on how we can transform our experience of life today. Otherwise paradox means that every step forward we take is three steps backward.

Learning to Unlearn is vital for success in todays digital era where we’re privy to an abundance of knowledge. This means in indulging in continually questioning assumptions about how things work, challenging old paradigms, and ‘relearning.’  Unlearning is letting go- saying good bye to an old, obsolete, and outdated paradigm, and embracing a new paradigm and willingly undergoing a paradigm shift. It’s like stripping old paint.

But unfortunately, we allow ourselves to be controlled by our preconceived and misconceived notions, governed by myths, conditioned by false assumptions and (mis)guided by wrong opinions, we are not open to new ideas and are unwilling to undergo a paradigm shift. When we fail to allow our minds to let go of “mis-and-dis-beliefs” we have held and learnt over a period of time, we don’t allow ourselves to wilt, fall, root, rise in order to bloom.

The secret to learning new things is to be willing to unlearn–even if what you know previously brought success. Most of us know that learning should be a lifelong endeavor. We need to constantly absorb new knowledge and learn new skills to remain relevant in our lives and competitive in our careers. We believe getting smart means knowing more, but in fact, it is not. We’re not practicing what we know. The acquisition of knowledge is dangerous when you don’t practice it. Attaining knowledge is easy but attaining wisdom is difficult.

I’d like to conclude by saying that the choice is rather simple: to act or be acted upon. Since change is the only constant you can truly rely upon, learning to navigate and adapt to it is not just important to your survival, it’s essential for you to thrive in the bigger game of life just like one of Darwin’s theories.  

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