Is learning the secret of happiness?

Do you feel a buzz when you learn something new? Is learning the secret of happiness?

A study by Oxford University and the Workers Educational Association found that those who join adult education classes feel more satisfied with their lives. San Francisco State University reported the same results in a similar study.

So, why does learning increase our happiness? Let’s find out.

Satisfies our natural curiosity

As human beings we are naturally curious.

Psychologists think curiosity is innate because we couldn’t survive without it. If children weren’t naturally curious they wouldn’t learn about the world around them. From birth to six years old children’s brains are like sponges absorbing language, shapes, patterns and movements.

As a species we simply would not have survived if we weren’t curious. How would we have found new foods and ways to keep warm and safe in different environments?

Our natural curiosity means encountering new experiences makes us feel alive. As the author Tahir Shah said, “Life without steep learning curves is no life at all.”

Gives our lives meaning

We all need to feel that there is a purpose to our lives. According to psychologists, if we don’t find meaning in our lives it causes emotional difficulties because we don’t have a sense of self-worth.

One of the ways we find meaning in our lives is through achieving a series of goals. There is nothing like the sense of accomplishment we feel when we’ve overcome obstacles and achieved mini-goals to learn a new skill.

Gives us control over our lives

If we have more control over our own lives we are more likely to be happy. Choosing to learn something we are interested in gives us that control.

When we are free to learn what we want, to study in a way that suits us (online, in-person, individually or in a group) and at our own pace, we have the autonomy we crave.

A recent study found that autonomy may be the single most important factor that contributes to our happiness.

Drives motivation

We need to feel motivated to want to learn something new, but motivation breeds motivation.

When we achieve a small goal on the path to learning a new skill, this powers our motivation further! One small success builds on another giving us the self-confidence and passion to develop our skills and push our capabilities as far as we like.

Scientists think motivation is strongly linked to happiness. It fosters creativity and leads us to make healthier lifestyle choices, which has untold benefits for our physical and mental wellbeing.

Builds resilience

Research has found that people who are resilient are more satisfied with their lives. Learning something new helps us build resilience.

Making mistakes is part of the learning process. When we stick with something we find challenging, this builds our confidence and resilience.

There’s a great sense of fulfillment that comes with achieving a goal when we have overcome challenges to get there.

Expands our horizons

When we try something new it can be scary at first, but it can also make us feel more energetic, full of life and happier. That’s because when we step out of our comfort zone to try something new and explore different possibilities, our brain produces the feel-good chemical, dopamine.

Have you ever felt excited to learn something new? Now you know why!

Prevents boredom

Boredom can be very useful because it can motivate us to seek new interests, socialise with others or change our life choices for the better. If boredom isn’t addressed, however, it can lead to depression and become a vicious cycle.

Being absorbed in learning a new skill stimulates the brain, keeps our minds active, brings a sense of achievement and keeps destructive thoughts at bay.

Leads to new friendships

Learning a new skill can lead to friendships.

Oxford University found that people who joined evening classes felt a greater sense of belonging and had improved mental wellbeing.

Even if we learn online from the comfort of our own home, we may still make new friends. We might, for example, join a Facebook community or a Slack study group. Our new interest might lead to a new job, or joining a group, so we build relationships that way.

Having friends who share a common interest with us can enrich our lives. Friendships prevent loneliness, boost happiness and decrease stress levels.

Learners thrive with TutorMyKids

The secret of happiness is a complicated topic, but evidence shows that continuing to learn throughout life is a vital ingredient.

At TutorMyKids we know that the foundations for lifelong learning can be built from an early age.

One of the keys to engaging students in lifelong learning is to focus on metacognitive skills. That means encouraging them to set their own learning goals, solve problems, reflect on their learning, develop communication skills, and take risks within a safe learning environment.

All our tutors are experienced teachers who are dedicated to helping children succeed and get the most from life.

To find out how we can support your child, please email