How to become a PolyMath
Recently I have started using Reddit (the internet's front page), which has pretty exciting things (other than memes and trolls haha).
There is a subreddit r/IWantToLearn and which has questions about how to learn something. Surprising insights we get from reading.
And in one particular thread where an ambitious user has posted a question, he is a teenager and wants to become a polymath. (Polymath = someone who knows a lot of things).
Unfortunately, there weren't any great answers. So I decided to try to write one by myself.
But the first question arises, why become a polymath in the first place? Is it worth the extra effort that society seems to resist?
You should become one. Even if you are 65+, you won't have brain Alzheimer's disease that usually happens due to low brain activity. Hence your brain won't age. And if you are a teen or young adult, you will find it great to keep yourself apart from the "herd" during career advancement, job hunting, and climbing the ladder of success.
You will find like-minded people and have in-depth conversations. Become a great conversationalist. You are attracting people towards you as you have a unique perception of how you perceive life.
But how do you become one? It was the actual question on Reddit, and this is how it went.
One of the fastest ways to become wise and learn a ton. Is to get a mentor. But it's hard; they don't have time to guide you personally. The second best option we all have is -
There is a massive chance that whatever you want to learn and the solution to your problem is in written form. By someone. More knowledgeable, more experienced, and wiser.
Reading books, in old times, has been the most prominent leisure activity. Those with free time back after their work then read or go on hunting. You may think everything written hundreds of years ago may be outdated for now. History repeats itself. Rather than repeating history, yesterday's lessons should be the foundation of growth for today.
In the morning, when the alarm goes off, you probably have felt the urge to sleep a little more. That's what 2400 years ago Roman Emperor and philosopher Marcus Aurelius felt. He had mentioned in his book Meditation (his journal). And how he had solved the problem. Recommended reading. And his journal was never written to get published. It was for his usage only.
Reading gives perspective. Of those with whom nobody can meet now (How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie) but here, you are having a though full and concise conversation with that over chai. You can have breakfast with Roman Emperor (Meditations by Marcus Aurelius), lunch with the founder of Nike (Shoe Dog by Phil Knight), and at dinner have a conversation with Gandhi (My Experiments with Truth by Mohandas (Mahatma) K. Gandhi). Thanks to books.
Update (30 April 2021): I have gone more in-depth in the video essay on why Read Books series.
Reading isn't a chore that you usually do with an English assignment. It is like a gym. It helps in building the muscles of the brain.
I can go on, but you get the idea.
Finding time to read.
Reading is this much-underrated trait. People don't seem to find time to read even they had already read it's one of the successful people's habits. If you can't find time to read also though you know that Bill Gates read at least one hour, then you need to audit your time schedule.
In this short attention span, instant gratification age, it's tough to complete a full 300 pages book. You may think it can be a waste of time.
Whenever an author writes, it just doesn't write and stop. It gets to many eyes to edit and rewrite a more concise form that would get printed.
About speed reading.
Last year, I have read like 20 books. And this year, in just 3 months, I have read like 30 books. I didn't attend any speed reading course. And forgot to mention that I have even taken detailed notes of each book. Don't worry about speed reading, after some experience, you will find that sweet spot of reading pretty soon. And it doesn't mean you have to read this (an arbitrary number) many books. Numbers don't matter at all.
Now the question arises on how to get started in this epic journey of learning?
For readers, I usually have two pieces of advice, one for starters readers and one for more advanced readers.
Dear starters readers,
You may get motivated to read a book through Instagram or even start your own "wisdom Facebook/Instagram page." But it won't last long. This shallow motive isn't that great. You may find time to read a lot in one sitting. What I recommend you guys is to read whatever you can get your hands on. Newspaper, magazine, your parent's book, school/college library. Anything print material.
The reason for printing is because you will read an ebook on mobile and as you are starters, you will find it pretty hard to concentrate.
For advanced readers,
Don't read everything. It's great to read everything until you have enough brainpower and strength to read a large amount of text without distraction. It's now time to take it to the next level.
What to read?
Your reading list can be vast, but you should read an extremely sophisticated collection of books only. And by that, I don't mean just self-help and business books only (it will help tremendously in beginning). Read history, read economics, read philosophy, read science, read social science, read how to read, read about war, read about peace, read about rights, read about space, read about evolution, read about the capitalist economy, read about laws of thermodynamics. Anything that intrudes you.
When you read this diverse content, you will realize, it helps you to build your own opinions. It can be political or historically or philosophically. Having the edge over others and you always have something that nobody knows. This way, you think, will make you arrogant. But the opposite of this happens. You become more open to alien ideas. Those ideas may seem impossible at first but will make sense.
Creative thinking will get developed.
You learn to become open-minded and humble. You really understand other's perspectives. And most importantly, you learn to think. Which is scare.
Thank you for reading. It means a lot to me. Consider subscribing.
Now you know the importance of reading. And why you should have books with you all the time. I kept them one in a bag with my kindle. But as you may have already noticed I write. And it emerged from this habit. One good habit begets more good habit. And one of them is writing. I write regularly. (Why I Write.)
Whenever you finish reading something. We go on with your life and at the most inappropriate moment (like in the shower), we get a connection between ideas or new inspiration. And it usually connected to what you have read recently. But to capture insights on the go. You should have a diary with you all the time. Keep a mini diary in your pocket.
Learn more about how Reading helps Alzheimer's.