Embracing a Renaissance Lifestyle, Part 2

As I discussed in the first post regarding a Renaissance Lifestyle, we live in an era of specialization; most people have a lot of depth of competence in only one field, thus needing to pay other specialists to “fill in the gaps” in other areas of their lives.  The first post dealt with maintaining our bodies.  We’ll talk a bit here about maintaining our minds.

This may be a controversial statement, but I believe most people have been told what to think as soon as they have begun formal education.  Once involved a career, most are told what to do and what to say.  Most people don’t think enough for themselves; they rely on others to do it for them.  My belief was solidified this past election cycle while I (quickly) clicked through different news channels.  It became obvious to me that most people rely on experts and get their opinions from pundits and on the internet (for better or worse, depending on which cable news channel you watch!).

The ability to think critically is key here.  It’s one thing to think critically about a subject we specialize in (music, art history, literature) and another thing to solve problems by ourselves about subjects we know little about.  Relying on outside analysis for everything we have limited knowledge of can (dangerously) make us followers as opposed to leaders.

In order to think critically outside the scope of our knowledge, we obviously need to increase our knowledge.  The Renaissance person acquires knowledge from many different areas in order to be able to synthesize the information and solve different problems.  Basically, the Renaissance person needs to be a lifelong learner; learning should not stop when school ends.  This is a concept I am constantly grappling with and trying to implement in my own life.

Some goals I have:

  • Constantly learn independently and maintain a passion for doing so.
  • Gain enough generalized knowledge of things I don’t know enough about (politics, food, etc.)
  • Practice critical thinking in several areas of life outside my specializations in order to create more choices; be open to new ideas but don’t accept anything uncritically.

Right now, I have electricity out in a few rooms on my second floor.  I can call the electrician (like I normally do) and he will tell me what the issue is while I listen and slowly glaze over, OR I can read a book about basic electrical work and have an intelligent discussion with electrician, thereby learning new things about electrical work and possibly saving money in the process (preventing the electrician from screwing me because I am obtuse on the subject!).  I have chosen the latter.  I’ll let you all know how it goes!



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