Scientific research from the 1990s now reveals that more than ever before, a challenged, stimulated brain may well be the key to a vibrant later life. Lifelong learning is like a health club for your brain. And an active mind can stimulate physical activity and keep your spirits high. It’s an all-around fantastic tool for better health.

And here are just a small list of the many benefits:

LIFELONG LEARNING CREATES A CURIOUS AND OPEN MIND.  The more learners discover about history, current events, politics, or the culture of other countries, the more they want to learn.  Our drive and desire to learn fuels itself and we keep going, constantly looking for more to feed our hungry minds.

LIFELONG LEARNING HELPS FULLY DEVELOP NATURAL ABILITIES.   We all have innate natural abilities, some of which might not be readily apparent.  Instead of wandering aimlessly through your life, why not seize the opportunity to fully find, explore and develop these abilities.

LIFELONG LEARNING HELPS US MAKE NEW FRIENDS AND CREATE VALUABLE RELATIONSHIPS.  No one enjoys loneliness. And through lifelong learning, people are meeting new people, forging friendships and relationships with others.  Good educational opportunities should be social, whether that means taking place in a classroom or via online chats. Even something as simple as following the author of a book you like and engaging with them on Twitter forces you to start communicating with and learning from a larger community.

LIFELONG LEARNING HELPS US FIND MEANING IN OUR LIVES.  Sometimes it’s difficult looking back on our lives.   Lifelong learning gives us the benefit of real perspective and enables us to find true meaning in the hills and valleys of our past.  Lifelong learning helps us to fly instinctively!

LIFELONG LEARNING HELPS US ADAPT TO CHANGE.  Society is in a state of constant flux.   Lifelong learning enables us to keep up with society’s changes – especially the technological ones. A learning environment with our peers not only makes it possible to stay abreast of change, it also makes it fun.  Perhaps the best part about being a dedicated lifelong learner is the ability to stay ahead of the pack. You’ll be ready for any industry as it shifts from one direction to another: Think of the iPod’s effect on the music industry or the world wide webs impact on print. The most important takeaway from reading and taking classes is often not what you learn, but how to learn new skills so that you are prepared for the jobs of tomorrow.

LIFELONG LEARNING HELPS US GET OUT OF A RUT AND EXPAND POSSIBILITIES.  If your current job or daily routine gets you down, activating and challenging your brain may be the best remedy. The mental state of flow is a cornerstone concept of positive psychology. Flow is nearly impossible when engaging in a passive activity; it requires a challenge that pushes your skills beyond your comfort level. By learning new skills, you challenge yourself in a way that engages flow and can lead to happiness.

LIFELONG LEARNING INCREASES OUR WISDOM.  Lifelong learning enables us to put our lives in perspective.  It increases our understanding of the whys and the whats of previous successes and failures, and it helps us understand ourselves better.

LIFELONG LEARNING MAKES THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE.  Through the community service aspect of lifelong learning,  learners can give back to their communities and to the world.   Some of us have spent 30, 40, 50  or more years interacting with the world.  What we have learned during that time can be translated into real value for the betterment of society. Our wisdom, insight – it’s all of tangible benefit to the world around us.

LIFELONG LEARNING OPENS THE MIND.  An integral part of lifelong learning is the free exchange of ideas and viewpoints among learners.  There is nothing like listening to or taking part in stimulating discussions to help us see the other side of an issue. That give-and-take opens our minds and brings us to a whole new level of enlightenment.