30 Actionable Ways to Become a Better Person

The Renaissance Man

If you ask me, the current state of our education system does not promote personal development or growth.

We are taught to memorize, not learn. We are also taught to value arbitrary indicators of intelligence or skill rather than actual products of them.

I’m currently in my last semester of University. I’ve never been a fan of school. From kindergarten to pursuing higher education, I’ve always taken a back seat and just “got by.”

Don’t get me wrong: I love to learn.

But I will admit, I absolutely despise school and this post is certainly a result of these feelings. That being said, I’m not here to argue the merits or lack thereof of traditional education.

Instead, I want to examine every day things people can do to grow and learn.

How can we become a modern version of the ‘Renaissance man?’

The Renaissance Persona — Becoming a Polymath:

A polymath is essentially a well rounded individual. Polymaths have knowledge and skill across a wide range of fields, such as the arts, science, politics, and physical feats.

I’m going to outline 30 things we can all do in our daily lives to take a step towards becoming a polymath.

10 Paths to Mental Development:

  • Read voraciously: The written word is fuel for your brain, so consume it.
  • Learn a new skill every month: What are your passions? What have you always wanted to learn? Make a decision to start learning a new skill and move on to a new skill every time you complete one.
  • Teach someone a new skill every month: Teaching can sometimes help the teacher more than the student. Share your knowledge with others. You’d be surprised at what you learn.
  • Pick your “weak spot” and tackle it: Mine is math, what’s yours?
  • Learn how to debate, and win graciously: Reading a guide on how to debate will change your life and serve you well.
  • Learn how to debate, and lose graciously: While winning is great, you should also learn how to lose an argument with tact.
  • Start to think about thinking: Meta cognition can help you to remain happy, understand your thinking patterns, and understand yourself and others.
  • Start a challenge, and finish it: Learn how to solve a Rubix cube, or write every day for 30 days, or complete some other challenge that makes you work for it.
  • Read philosophy: Discover the greatest questions humanity has ever come up with.
  • Read science: Discover the greatest solutions humanity has ever come up with.

10 Paths to Physical Development:

  • If it makes you uncomfortable, do it: Whether it’s running, biking, or some other physical feat you don’t particularly enjoy…just do it.
  • Embrace a Spartan lifestyle (to see if you can!): Play a personal game with yourself to see just how hard you can be. Cold showers, early mornings, fitness routines, or other deliciously horrible but rewarding practices can serve as a nice personal challenge.
  • Sweat at least 3 times a week: If you didn’t sweat, it didn’t count.
  • Cook something new (that’s healthy) once a month: Learn how to enjoy the process of cooking.
  • Try the classics (sprints, long distance, weights): You don’t have to be in the Olympics to train like it.
  • Climb a mountain once in your lifetime: You will never realize the extent of your own humanity until you realize how large and beautiful this world truly is and how small we all are.
  • Camp somewhere you cannot find civilization once in your lifetime:Have you ever heard wolves howl throughout the night?
  • Learn how to work with your hands: Even if it’s fixing old furniture or hanging a shelf, learn how to work with your hands.
  • Learn how to start a fire from scratch: I mean, if the cavemen could figure it out…
  • Try a new sport: My go-to recommendation is ultimate Frisbee.

10 Paths to Cultural/Social Development:

  • Read one news source a month that disagrees with you: If you’re conservative, read liberal news. If you’re liberal, read conservative news.
  • Volunteer at a new organization once a year: Gain insight into the works of a new cause.
  • Make an effort to read global news, not just local news: Stay up-to-date on the workings of the world.
  • Try something fun with your style: Rock a bow tie or overalls or something weird.
  • Spend your next vacation in a new country or place: Travel is one way to really expand your horizons, as cliche as that sounds.
  • Start learning a new language, even if it’s only at a conversational level: You’d be amazed at how even minor knowledge of another language can serve you in life.
  • Read one major work from the major religions: Religion impacts how millions of people act and live. Try to understand what they believe in.
  • Read one major work from culturally famous authors: From Machiavelli to Simon Bolivar, read some varying perspectives.
  • Read as much history as you can: You cannot understand modern events without understanding the past.
  • Listen to new music sometimes: Top 40 gets old. Bump some different music ever now and again and have some fun.

Ultimately, as long as you pick just a few items from this list, you can take an active step towards becoming a polymath and learn something new! Why not give it a try?

Thanks for reading!