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Fritzie -

TEDCRED 200+

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How important is it to you to take action on the basis of what you learn?

Some of us learn almost entirely for the pleasure of it. Others see learning primarily as an investment in career. Others feel compelled to use their learning for a tangible productive purpose beyond achieving understanding and beyond providing commentary from the sidelines on other people's actions (or lack of sensible actions).

How important is it to take action on the basis of what you have learned? Is taking significant action a regular part of your life or more an intention for the future?

Topics: action
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    Gail . 50+

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    Jul 29 2012: Jared. I have long since looked at the worldviews that encourage such treatment as I have seen first-hand in many reservations and inner cities of America. I have also looked at the worldviews that allow the US – the “wasichu” – to treat its own citizens in much the same way while convincing the majority that this is not the case.

    What action did I take upon recognizing the magnitude of the problem? How did I empower myself when I could see no way to effect meaningful change?

    # of characters prevents a full answer, but it came to me in 2 steps.

    First I examined my own worldview, which allowed me to see I had been part of the problem. It was a thorough and exhaustive examination of my beliefs. It took both courage and determination to throw out long-cherished cultural beliefs for which facts or logic existed to prove them wrong. This took years of self-education and SELF-education .

    Only after this was I able to choose how I would address the problem. An empty pitcher cannot fill the glasses of others. The sense of dis-empowerment you feel is evidence that your own pitcher is empty. First you must fill it.

    When you know yourself, you will see how you can begin to fill the glasses of those who thirst. And only then will you see how you cannot force another to drink. This contrast shows you windows of opportunities, and with those windows of opportunity, the indoctrinated sense of disempowerment that you perceive will begin to evaporate from your worldview

    The answer to all your questions begin with the suggestion: Become self-aware. You are not what you think that you are. You have been lied to. You are a powerful being. You have learned how to use your own power against yourself – thus others. This leaves you feeling disempowered. Find your power. That will show you how, when, why, where, and who.
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    Jul 26 2012: To me it is a really crucial part of the learning purpose. I believe I have three tasks to fulfill the learning process. First I see it an investment in career, as known as professional knowledge. Then I realize the way to learn things, to observe the people and the world so that I will be able to communicate. Finally I would take action based on my own values, which are rooted in what I learn. All three parts are equally important to me.
  • Jul 25 2012: "How important" means how does this fit into my values.

    IMO, a persons values are her/his actions. People live their values. I try to apply this to myself, and when asked what I consider important, or what I value, I look at my actions.

    I have one thing that is of primary importance to me, and that is taking care of my wife who is chronically ill.

    Whether this is right or wrong, I have not taken any action based on what I have learned recently, other than my contributions on these discussions, which I consider entertainment. So taking action on the basis of what I have learned recently is not important to me.

    When people ask if I care about something I say it is on my short list or my long list. My short list are the things I care about and act upon. My long list is everything else. Based on my current actions, I do not care about the billions of people living in poverty and disease, the millions of animals suffering at the hands of humans, the injustice inflicted upon people, or the environment. What I feel about these issues is completely irrelevant to those enduring the suffering.

    When I chose to have a family, I made commitments, and I intend to fulfill those commitments. Perhaps young people should look more closely and more broadly at the options before making commitments. I doubt that it would have changed my decisions, but perhaps some others.
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      Jul 25 2012: Wow this is one of the most moving assertions that I have ever read on TED. Thankyou Fritzie for provoking such an answer. Where else in society do we get to bear witness to such love?. Thank you Barry, for living and breathing in this world for I am better for recycling air you might have once breathed. Best wishes to your wife.
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      Jul 25 2012: God bless you and yours with continuing courage and compassion Barry. By way of entertainment, do you agree that if you learn something that carries with it a demand for action but you do not perform that action, instead you put it on your "long list", then you have really not learned the thing so much as you have become aware of it? I wonder if becoming aware of something is the same as learning something.
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    Jul 28 2012: I look at every bit of knowledge as a piece of a grand puzzle. Every time I find a piece I determine where it belongs in the puzzle. Wisdom is the ability to put the puzzle together. As the puzzle grows with pieces of knowledge, I gain more ability to complete the puzzle.
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    Jul 25 2012: If what we claim to have learned requires action and we do not take action, we have not learned.
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      Jul 25 2012: Further to Edward's cogent point, it sometimes takes a long time to learn and to assimulate what needs to be done. When the penny drops for me I almost always act for my conscience will not allow any other course of action. Sometimes my choice of action is not the action another might choose for me to make.
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        Jul 25 2012: Agreed whole-heartedly! There is usually a time gap between learning and doing. The doing is proof of the learning. It is a process. Thanks Debra!
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      Jul 25 2012: Edward and Fritzie~! I just watched a TEDx talk that illustrates this point. i hope you enjoy this as I did.

      oops it will not let me embed it! It is TEDxEast and it is by Oskar Eustis and it is called a Puvblic place (I think). Cheers!
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        Jul 25 2012: I have tried every search trick I know and cannot find it.
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        Jul 25 2012: Eureka! I was searching the TED website, not Utube. Mr. Eustis is a champion of change, no doubt. That "tangible productive purpose" Fritzie mentions in the question before us seems to be just what Oskar is all about. He has learned that theater is not best served as a commodity and he is acting on what he has learned. Thank you Ms. Smith for that timely contribution.
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          Jul 25 2012: It is my distinct pleasure and joy to find and share something you take pleasure in, Edward!
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        Jul 26 2012: Eustis' talk was interesting in multiple ways. It does raise the question of what it takes for us to change from what we may be exposed to. We may become aware of ideas, perhaps, then consider those ideas with some degree of seriousness, then accept them into the web of ideas we consider valid and important, and only then, perhaps, act on those ideas if moving into action is more valuable to us than doing whatever else we might be doing and hoping/waiting for others to act.
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          Jul 26 2012: Hey there! Why I wanted to share this talk is because it gave support to someone's contentionthat time is a major factor in plugging in change.
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        Jul 26 2012: That's what I thought, Debra. I was thinking about why change in a person's mindset or disposition to action might take time or even stall along the way.
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        Jul 26 2012: I really liked Oskar's take on what is real and what is not regarding things verses ideas.

        But I cannot agree with his ideas regarding theater is a commodity. YES it is. The VERY definition of art is that it is communication and if the artist prefers to be self indulgent and thus disconnecting from the audience he does NOT deserve to be supported.
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          Jul 26 2012: HI Pat, i am delighted you found something of value in the talk!
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        Jul 26 2012: I'm delighted that you are delighted.
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          Jul 26 2012: It's all good as they say. Pat! Buenos Dias!
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    Jul 29 2012: For me, I actually learn by doing. I'm terrible about learning just from reading text. I have to apply it to real world applications just to begin to understand certain concepts. As far as importance, I would think it would be a powerful education tool to put things into action for a deeper understanding of how thinks work and build upon each other.
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    Gail . 50+

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    Jul 28 2012: Taking action on what I have learned is essential. In fact, it's unavoidable.

    When I learn something, my worldview changes. As my worldview predetermines my actions, then the new learning integrates itself into my behaviors.

    On a less existential level, some things that are learned need practice. Others need testing. Others need talking about so that I can see myself think - thus exposing what I have learned to constructive criticism.

    I learn for the sheer joy of learning. I differentiate between "formal education" and "education". The first has done too much damage to my life. The second has brought joy and purpose that is not money driven.
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      Jul 28 2012: What defines "taking action" for you? I struggle with the fact that there are many new things I learn that I don't feel empowered to take action on. For instance: http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/aaron_huey.html. There are so many learnings upon which I could take action. How do you decide which ones to take action on? There are so many considerations: How long will it take me to create lasting, worthwhile change? What is worthwhile change? Is there something better I could be working on? How much would I enjoy acting on this learning? How do you walk this balance?
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        Jul 28 2012: What a thoughtful and well-articulated reply. It is so productive to pose to ourselves the question of where our time and talents are best spent.
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        Jul 29 2012: Well, after determining if your planned action will be effective for those involved, I think it would be best if you look into your personal values. Sometimes it can be a difficult decision to make but only you can make that decision.

        Try creating a life purpose statement that describes HOW you want to live instead of WHAT actions you will take during your lifetime. Then go back to your life purpose statement before taking action to make sure it aligns with how you want to live.

        It may not be perfect, but at least it gets you moving if movement is what you seek.
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          Jul 29 2012: People have different ways of doing this. The more verbally-focused person may use a personal mission statement. I have known others to create vision boards to this same end, to create an over-arching picture of which worthwhile projects and actions also align with the person's big picture of where he wants to focus effort. There is also a thread underway at this time through which people are sharing personal mottos, which may in some cases offer similar focus in self-organization.
      • Jul 29 2012: FIRST YOU GOT TO DEEPLY KNOW YOURSELF. AND BE AWARE OF YOUR CURRENT STATE.. EXAMPLE----KNOW HOW GOOD ARE YOU PHYSICALLY, MENTALLY, ARE YOU HAPPY OR NOT ETC.
        THEN YOU CAN FIGURE WHAT YOU LIKE DOING (ALONGSIDE OTHER THINGS YOU CAN ALSO FIGURE OUT)---IT COULD BE MORE THAN ONE THING, OR IT COULD ONE MAIN THING, AND A LOT OF OTHERS THINGS NOT AS IMPORTANT. YOU WOULD KNOW WHICH THING/S YOU LIKE TO TAKE ACTION ON, WHEN YOUR BRAIN, HEART, SOUL, SUBCONSCIOUSNESS ETC--ALL AGREED. YOU WOULD LIKE DOING WHATEVER YOU CHOOSE.... YOU WONT EVEN MIND NOT GETTING PAID FOR IT. THEN ONCE YOU CHOSEN THE THING/S YOU REALLY LIKE TO DO, ENABLE YOURSELF TO DO IT. (SOMETIMES PEOPLE CHANGE, BUTS THAT'S OK, EXPLORE UNTIL YOU FILL COMPLETE DOING WHAT YOU DO) EXAMPLES------EINSTEIN LOVED SCIENCE/MATH ETC THAT'S ALL HE THOUGHT ABOUT ALL DAY, EVERYDAY. , MAGIC LOVED BASKETBALL THAT'S ALL HE DID, AND THOUGHT ABOUT. WHEN YOU DO WHAT YOU LIKE, IT DOES NOT FEELS LIKE WORKING, IT FEELS LIKE DESTINY. ANY OTHER MOTIVATIONS WILL NOT MAKE YOU WORK AS HARD AS YOU SIMPLY BEING EAGER TO DO WHAT YOU LIKE---NOT MONEY, NOT AWARDS, ETC. AS FOR MYSELF I LIKE TOO MANY THINGS-THEREFORE I WILL DO ALL OF THEM.
  • JEFF D.

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    Jul 28 2012: very important. i need the wisdom of applying my "knowledge" on the real world. that wisdom can shape you as a person, from what you believe in, till how you react in certain situations. for me is more of an intention for my future self, and the future itself.
    if scientist and inventors didn't take action on the basis of what they learned , we probably wouldn't have new tech, and new stuff every-year.
    i only take action on the basis of what i learned when i want to.
    its very important. more for the future.
  • Jul 28 2012: I think we owe it to ourselves to avoid making the same mistakes over and over again.
    Fool me once, shame on you.
    Fool me twice, shame on me.
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    Jul 27 2012: I wanted to add that it is all about the actions/application until you do this you have nothing. The application is 90% of knowledge. A key test to this can you do it or not? If not there is something that you read that you did not grasp.

    Another thing that I wanted to add to this is that apprenticing is imperative, which is why Germany excels as it does.
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      Jul 28 2012: Yes, the usefulness of various forms of mentoring and apprenticeship is often not recognized. And what you say about use being the test of comprehension is also true.

      I am reminded of hearing from a mother some years back that her daughter understood "the concepts" in her math class but could not use them in application. To my mind if one cannot use concepts, ones level of understanding only skims the surface.
      Still, there is a difference between not knowing how to take action and not choosing to take action.
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        Jul 28 2012: I suppose the answer to that last stamen t would depend on the context? But if you are not going to use it then I guess a perfunctory acquaintance with the subject would be fine. But I wonder if too much time is given to things of no consequence because a teacher gave too much importance to them? There appears to be a pathology to the culture?

        My main point as you know is that only actions and application change anything. Emotions are irrelevant. But interest is imperative but interest is not an emotion interest is focus and interest is the grease of communication which is where ideas are created but that is what leads to application
  • Jul 27 2012: Hi Fritzie;

    I believe that taking action is a pursuit of change. As an agent of change, you are subject to change. Do you want change?

    I think actualized people seek to learn and take action more so than those who are distracted by inner reflections or conundrums.
    A sense of imminent discovery in a transistional age of technology and quantum wonderments drives my learning.
    Also, spiritually speaking, the amazing reconciling between physical (fractal math, quantum computing, multiple infinities, black hole information retention theory) and meta physical principles (dimensional planes, conciousness manifestation in noetics, shakras, hell, even aliens as demensionsal and not terrestrial visitors
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      Jul 27 2012: I think a reflective disposition may delay hasty action, but generally speaking, reflection is part of careful consideratiuon of options and their likely effects and unintended side effects.
      • Jul 27 2012: Action can be taken after careful consideration of the effects, but seeing the world through lense of unresolved need, anger or fear can affect all predictive judgement regarding intention.
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          Jul 27 2012: Yes, we take action or resist action as humans rather than machines. And our ability to predict the impacts of different courses of action will be highly imperfect in complex situations where all the pertinent information is difficult to gather and synthesize.
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      Jul 28 2012: Dear Paul, thank you for driving my own thinking forward!

      I loved your comment and particularly learned from this part:
      "I think actualized people seek to learn and take action more so than those who are distracted by inner reflections or conundrums."

      Yes, I am not sure i would say it that way but I agree that many earnest people are distracted and occupied by inner conundrums. What I do see is that these inner conundrums can be created by the capacity to question and find nuance or by brokeness in their functioning. Either way, both are valid uses of the energies to me, and both are growth and an additional reason to treat others kindly. Remember that old idea that one person represents the world enitre? If so, this is an example to me of how the entire world's functioning and forward momentum can be stalled by wounding one mind. Thanks, Paul!
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    Jul 26 2012: Fritzie, Many things went through my small mind at one time. What if your parent was abusive, alcholic, sexually abusive, etc ... parents are teachers to. Not all teachers are objective. Many teach to their drum and disregard all others. Colleges and professors are becoming very political and embed this in their classes. Parents have racial and political hates and the kids love and trust their parents ... so to take action and become a KKK like good ole dad?

    In politics colege kids are pons and are disregarded after the election. Ethnic voters are sucked in with promises that are not allowed under the Constitution. All of the dreams come from executive orders not congressional action. This is done to teach you I am good .. they are bad and usually come in election years to garner a vote.

    So my point is that what is learned needs to be processed prior to implementation. Any one who has read any of my posts know I encourage research and action. I preach get in the game. That you may disagree have a reasonable dialog, hopefully with an open mind. That is also part of the learning process.

    Make sure the light at the end of the tunnel is not a on comming train.

    Best of luck. Bob.
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      Jul 26 2012: I am with you that processing ideas, including critical thinking, is important prior to taking action.
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      Jul 27 2012: What a thoughtful reply Robert.

      I comepletely agree with action after research. Not to say that sleep walking parents or the KKK can't teach us anything. They are capable of teaching us what not to do if our minds are opened at some point during our lives.

      So I would like to add that conscious thought is also an important part of researching and taking any type of action in regards to what you've learned, regardless of where you've learned it from.
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    Jul 25 2012: It is the application of knowledge that show the difference between someone who believes in what has been learnt as helpful and someone who just went to school for the theory.

    Application of what is learnt is not just the application of the ideas thought by teachers; but by this, I mean an increased capacity for critical thinking, and a broader perspective that enriches reasoning.

    In Nigeria for example, there are numerous failed institutions headed by individuals who have studied in various Western universities. With the failure, what makes them better than someone who has never gone to school and is probably clueless about the workings of modern governance?

    Learning without applying the knowledge, would be like the Bible's revelation of the Devil and Demons. They know all the scriptures, but they do nothing about it.
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    Jul 25 2012: IN MY VIEW:
    We take one or another form of action after we learn something. Thoughts seem more like energy to me and once they come into existence they will always trigger an action but the action can be different some visible, some almost as if in back ground. Types of actions I see are as follows:
    1) Direct Application
    2) Sharing / Inspiring
    3) Using what we learn to learn or understand other things
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      Jul 25 2012: I am interested specifically in what you call direct application. Sharing is wonderful, but when we only share, we might think we are part of tangible forward motion when in fact we are only passing the ball laterally.

      I am wondering how many of us lull ourselves into thinking we are part of forward motion when we are only part of very active lateral passing.
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        Jul 25 2012: By direct application I meant to invent or giving a tangible form to what we learned.

        You asked about action only so I replied on the basis of action whether its passing the ball but its surely an action.

        Its not always the right choice for each and every one to be the front runner but that doesn't discount their contribution even if its not recognized. If I know I have contributed then its enough for me rather I will be interested to see the reaction that follow just like your answer ;).
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          Jul 25 2012: I absolutely understand people are comfortable in different roles- leading, following, and sidelines watching..
  • Jul 28 2012: Follow your bliss. Itr seems to me that one may be differentiating between different personality types. For example engineers and scientists. Think about the ted lecture recently dealing with Babbage. The theoretical can become important and real. The practical man may be lost in trivialities. Follow your bliss.
  • Jul 27 2012: As a individual,none. Not even as a group as 0+0 still equals zero. History proves this out.
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      Jul 26 2012: Yes, introverts and others who tend to prefer the sidelines sometimes take uncomfortable public action when it is important enough to them. Taking action often takes time and effort that could be used for other things and also entails a risk of failing. These are potential personal costs a person might weigh in deciding whether to watch or participate actively in a cause..
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        Jul 27 2012: You bring up a good point Fritzie,

        I am an introvert, but if something strikes me as important enough and it matches up with my values, I will uncomfortably take action. I'm even willing to work through feelings of possible failure. However, I also brainstorm to a degree that I've pretty much talked myself right out of that fear.

        If I fear failure, then I take it to mean that I haven't come up with the most effective solution to a problem. In other words, I am more inspired to take action when i have developed what I feel is the best possible soultion to the problem I aim to solve.
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      Jul 28 2012: sibin,

      Sure. Lots of people act without fear of failure, at least on the surface.

      I know some people who are confident in everything they do, regardless of why that confidence exists (not caring about the outcome, naturally optimistic, positive reinforcement from others, etc). I also know some people who are more confident in taking action after research. Then there are those who aren't confident in anything they do and are the most affected by fear of failure.

      I happen to fall into the category of people who find more confidence in taking action after research.

      Now you have me wondering how many other categories are lurking out there and how many other self-directed learners find confidence in the learning process as well...
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          Jul 29 2012: Sibin,
          You're right in a sense, but I think that the bold ideas are what come from within, not necessarily the decisions.

          Let me speak from my own experience here and say that I spend most of time brainstorming (and researching) a very wide variety of topics. During this time, my brain is storing away all kinds of novelties for future use, but I won't know when I need to use them until that time comes.

          Now, fast forward a bit to a time when I do need to make a spur of the moment decision.

          I've been storing novel ideas for quite a while now and my brain has plenty to draw from...sometimes even mixing ideas together for better effect. So I am now able to make a decision that's bold and innovative right there on the spot.

          So to backtrack to Fritzie's original question (hi Fritzie), the importance of taking action on the basis of what I learn is directly guided by the context of the situation. I may be in brainstorm mode where I'm just toying around with thought puzzles or I may be in a situation that warrants pulling out the old file cabinet of ideas from those brainstorming sessions.

          Basically, if I keep learning, I'll always have bold ideas to use when it comes time to make instantaneous decisions. And no, I didn't reseach this reply, just in case you were wondering lol.
  • Jul 26 2012: So many thoughts come to mind, but I will try to keep it short by starting to distinguish between possible things we can learn, since it is the basis of the question. For example:
    1. We can acquire certain skills
    2. We can learn about certain facts in our respective fields of studying or profession (this seems to be what was meant by the question, right?)
    3. We can learn about facts concerning our environment (like other people, politics…)
    (1.) In most cases, people will use their skills all the time; the only difference might be how they use them. I study philosophy, so I am good at analyzing stuff. Now I could use it to analyze a text, which is within my field of studying, or I can go beyond that and use them to be a volunteer at a crisis-hotline for teens and kids. The question is, if you can tell, which one is more significant and for whom.
    (2.) In this case it certainly depends on what you do. In my case it is quite hard to take significant actions (whatever that might be); it is more likely that what I have learned will shape the way I see the world and how I act in it. But in that respect I basically do act on what I have learned, I just don’t go out and seek situations in which I can do it - they come to me.
    (3.) This is the part, where I believe, my actions come more directly from a fact I have learned. I hear about an injustice, a personal problem of a friend (…) and I decide to do something about it. This of course has a direct link to first two points, because the things I will get involved in are certainly decided by the way I see the world and how I will get involved will depend on my personal skills.

    So in the end for people like me the question isn’t whether I learned entirely for pleasure, because there simply is no other reason, but if I am able and willing to take (1) and (2) and put it to good use (or: significant action) in respect to (3), and maybe, if I am lucky enough, to make a career out of that.
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      Jul 26 2012: Thank you, Sandra, for your thoughtful reply. I meant no single one of your cases but all three.

      I agree that just as people used to say "you are what you eat," we are influenced in daily actions, however trivial they may be, by the things we learn. So in that respect we might all say that by definition we act on what we have learned. We learned to walk and act on that. We learned of someone's "bad acts," and we might flinch at his photo or avoid hearing him speak on a news interview program.

      Talking to our friends is also technically an action and when we share what we have learned, whether an idea, story, or gossip, we have acted in a sense of having done something.

      My particular interest was that we might consider the balance in our lives between , on the one hand, ideas we only talk about figuring there is a chance others might act on the basis of what we have shared and , on the other hand,engaging in action that goes beyond discussion. Your crisis hotline is an example.

      One of the issues that arises when learning is transformed mainly into conversation, even when it is about a public issue, is that one often has to get closer in an on-the-ground sense to the guts of an issue before one truly understands it and certainly before one can help use ones insights to effect change.
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    Jul 26 2012: It is very important ... because the earlier you apply what you learn , the more quickly it stays in your head and then it slowly becomes a habit and then there is not much effort involved in applying what you learn....

    As the famous saying goes : Actions make habits and habits make a character.
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    Jul 25 2012: The very purpose of life is to conquer the universe (not your fellow earthlings) and to learn from this conquest. To do otherwise is tantamount to suicide.
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    Jul 25 2012: I think it's more about what you believe from what you've learned, not specifically from what you've learned. And whether it's important or not, isn't really important imo because we will naturally do things based on what we believe in.