Navigating New Waters
Take a moment to think about the last new skill you learned. How did you feel about the challenge? What strategies did you use to overcome any difficulties you experienced? How did you feel about mastering the skill and in what ways have you incorporated it into your life since?
Aside from the vital skill of learning to read, for which many of us are eternally grateful and which was an entrée into a myriad magical world, leaning to swim is an essential skill for those of us living around the fringes of this large island continent.
As our Primary Head of School Paul O’Brien explained in last week’s Newsletter acquiring this skill is fundamental for survival, but also to engage in many opportunities in life here. He cogently explained the additional benefits it brings such as enhanced communication and problem solving.
What, then, is the relationship between acquiring a new skill, such as swimming, and wellbeing?
The Importance of 'Having a go!'
It could be argued that across the span of our lives, beginning in uterine, we are continually growing, adapting, evolving, and changing. That’s one of the wonders of being alive. To what extent, though, do we take time to reflect upon these things or are we inclined to take them for granted?
One compelling argument for learning new skills is that it can be enormously enjoyable in both more formal contexts, such as schools, but also in all other aspects of our lives. Learning how to ride a bike can be just as thrilling and liberating as crafting an argumentative essay.
Of course, embarking upon new skill learning takes courage and can be a risk. Not all of us can collaborate successfully to write a hit musical, paint as sublimely as Monet or play English Premier League level football but ‘having a go’ helps us feel positive and proud of our efforts. These experiences can also reveal to us previously unknown strengths, such as creativity. and provide the incentive for us to tap into our potential.
Seeking out the Positive
Learning in relation to others, in these ways, results in a greater likelihood that we will appreciate alternative perspectives. Logically, such cooperation engenders empathy, inclusivity, and respect. If more people exposed themselves to those different to themselves and improved their understanding of alternative beliefs, values, cultures, languages, and histories, we may have a more peaceful, harmonious world.
Unquestioningly, life be unexpected, mystifying and even incredibly distressing. If we stubbornly maintain a laser-like focus on searching out the good, on continual learning and on embracing each opportunity to make an effort, the likelihood is that, not only will we become dolphin-like swimmers, but we will fight off the deleterious consequences of stress, and thrive.