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The Psychology of Retirement: Coping with the Transition from Work by Derek Milne

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6

Learning from Life

The road to wisdom?

Well, it's plain & simple to express:

Err and err and err again,

But less and less and less.1

One of our especially impressive characteristics is adaptability. By and large, we deal effectively with what life throws at us, whether this is coping with everyday challenges or making significant transitions that can mean re-inventing ourselves. If you are reading this in your retirement, pause for a moment to marvel at how many obstacles you have overcome to get this far, and reflect on how you have developed over the years. We have made such progress by adapting, mostly due to our extraordinary capacity for learning. To quote one author, we are “the learning species,”2 in that our distinctive specialization, in comparison to other species, is learning itself. Learning can be defined as the lasting changes we make as a result of experience, most obviously how we develop in the specialized environments we create to foster learning, such as schools and universities. Learning also permeates our everyday activity, being a process of dealing with practical issues through trial and error, with the result that we acquire knowledge, skills, or attitudes that equip us better to cope throughout our lifespan. Clearly, this process is of huge importance to coping with retirement, which is why this chapter is devoted to learning.

In particular, this chapter focuses on learning from everyday experience (“experiential learning”), treating it as the foundation ...

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