31 August 2016

The joy of learning and beginning again

As you may have noticed if you live in the northern hemisphere, my favourite season is coming. The physalis is turning orange, plums are all over the market, and regular newscasters are back on TV after weeks of summer holidays. September is also the season for renewal - new activities, timetable, stationery, resolutions, and learning...

Apart from the new agendas, notebooks and scented candles, to me, the back to school season is an opportunity to refresh the "life plan" : what do you want for your life? Where are you at regarding resolutions you took at the beginning of the year? How are your projects and objectives going?

Assessing daily habits and reaffirming objectives

It is said that what you do every day forges who you are. No matter your objectives - may it be in terms of simplification, life meaning, career, family, creative pursuits - it is with small daily steps that you see a big change after weeks, months and years.

But daily life is tricky : after the high of taking resolutions (may it be at the beginning of the new year or whenever you get to snap out of automatic habits to decide for a change), the daily obligations and routine creeps back in. Which is normal. One needs to work, clean, prepare food... With time, some good habits become natural and others become forgotten.

That's why I believe it is very positive to have these small rituals - the new year's resolutions and the back to school assessment, in my case -  to snap out of daily life, take a look at how your objectives are going and rectify the course if need be.

Plus, it is the occasion to get a new agenda, try out new organisation methods, and, why not, do a bit of end of summer editing and minimizing!

Learning, always

To me, the back to school season is also the symbol of learning new things, getting new classes and activities for the year to come. I've always been one of these weird children who actually liked to learn and enjoyed going back to school in september.

As an adult, it is too easy to get caught up in life and stop learning. But learning new things keeps life exciting, the brain on top of its shape and makes daily life a little less dull and a little more exciting.

It can be a time to look for a new professor, register at a club for new activities, night classes or even a MOOC!

This week, I have registered to a new Coursera MOOC that might be of interest to you if you are following this blog: A life of happiness and fulfillment

Why do I like it? The idea from the Dr. Rajagopal Raghunatha, a marketing professor, was that the former students from his marketing school who had the best career were not necessarily the happiest ones. Business school doesn't teach people about life fulfillment. So he decided to start a class about how to be "happy smart", meaning understanding how happiness works in our brains to craft our own life fulfillment.

Similar to the Science of Happiness MOOC I took last year (and which is opening again soon if you are interested), this course is about all the studies on the human brain and what makes us happy or unhappy. As a very rational person, this scientific approach to well-being suits me well.

If you are interested in joining that MOOC, classes start this week and the first assignment is for September 4, although you can ignore assignments and simply learn the course materials. Chances are this will provide inspiration for future posts on the blog.

What about you? What does september mean to you? Do you have rituals for new beginnings, assessments and motivation boosts?


  1. My first baby is due at the end of September so it's a big time of change. I've been on a process of simplifying my life for a few years (massively inspired by your blog) but pregnancy, and the need to slow down due to tiredness, has made me reassess my life more than ever and focus on what's important (which for me is writing poetry and drawing). This might also be that I'm worried I will never have free time again once my daughter's born! I have always loved September; the cosy evenings with lit candles, the excuse to eat lots of pies and crumbles with custard, boots and coats, red nail varnish, and the opportunity to press reset. Now Autumn will be a more significant time for me than ever. Hana

    1. Congratulations, that's great news! And a big (and happy) life change indeed :) I understand having a baby can raise some questions about how to spend our time and focusing on what's important. September is going to become an even better period for you and your family from now on :) I'm happy to hear you could find some inspiration to simplify here, and I wish you all the best for the happy times to come for you ;)

  2. I personally love Autumn myself, how the seasons evolve and bring about a new warmth and thirst for change. I am the exact same have such a love of learning, previously taking uc berkeley's general psychology class and also very much into the positive psychology movement - learning more about myself and how I relate to the world around me. Have you taken VIA strength tests, love for learning is usually one of my top strengths and innate curiosity. That sounds about right. Must check out that new course on Coursera - thanks for the recommendation :) My love for stationery is also there! Best of luck with the course, looking forward to hearing the updates.

    1. Thanks for your nice comment! I'm always surprised to see how many people also love Autumn, most people prefer summer but we are not alone liking the seasonal changes and great colours of Autumn :) General psychology also sounds good, I'll probably take one of these in the future. For now the happiness and fulfillment course is really great. Some things are similar as the Science of happiness MOOC, after all it is based on the same field of research, but I really like the way this course presents things with practical examples and good exercises so far. I did take the VIA character test a few months back, yes! The first one is indeed the love of learning, then there is perseverence, critical thinking, perspective and courage. I'm still working on ways to capitalize on these qualities :) I hope you find time to check out this course, I'll probably talk more about some of the subjects on the blog in the months to come :)

  3. So many wonderful things in this post!
    I love the change of summer into fall and maybe for this reason. Though I haven't been in school for years, I love the feeling of fresh beginnings, a new year, a blank notebook, a brand new planner...and learning. Always learning. In fact, I planned for September to be the start of a few projects and goals that have been on mind for months. After having a baby (that turns one in October!) I feel like I need to make the space and time (however small it may be) for myself again. A little bit of creativity each day. I also signed up for classes on sustainabilty and lightroom. And while it sounds like I am taking on more, I feel like the past year I have been letting go of so much and focusing on what I truly enjoy or am interested in. And I am feeling inspired again! The class you are taking sounds so interesting. And how great are those traveler notebooks!

    1. Thanks for your nice comment! That's great, you seem to have a lot of projects and to learn many things, it must be harder with a small baby but it's important to focus on yourself a bit to be more energized for the family too. I do love these traveler's notebooks too, the small one I keep in my purse is absolutely perfect so far. I saw on their site they have diary/calendar filler notebooks so I may get one in January... Good luck on all your upcoming projects and classes, it sounds exciting!

  4. Thank you for such wonderful post and for the wonderful comments to it. We should never let go an opportunity to start again, it being September, January, or the middle of March, because if we feel like that it is probably because we need that fresh start. Thank you for mentioning Coursera. I watched a TED talk a while back about this project and I forgot to check it. I've actually signed up for the Hapiness and Life fulfilment course because I feel I need to work in this aspect. I've got a 1 year old baby boy and this year has been pretty tough, mainly because of having to deal with an internal fight between my motherly nature of wanting to be with him all the time, and my creative half, which has struggle to find any time to develop. Now it's getting a bit easier, but I thought this course would help me being more aware of my reality and appreciate it for what it is. I just finished week one and I'm loving the approach o the subject. Thanks again for the recommendation!

    1. Thank you for this kind comment! I'm glad you are enjoying the course so far, I can imagine it must be hard to find balance with a small baby at home but I'm sure there are also so many great things to experience as a new mother :) My mum always tells me kids grow too fast, you must enjoy every moment of your life together ;) I hope you keep enjoying the course (I love it so far too!)