Tricking Ourselves Into Learning

Tricking Ourselves Into Learning

Everything we do teaches us something. Life is all about tricking ourselves into learning.

Penny’s Big Invention

Penny had a big school project last year where they got to invent something. It sounded like an amazing idea and I was very excited to see what she would come up with. You know what she invented? A pencil box. Made out of paper. (So I’m not counting on her invention skills to get us to early retirement quite yet!) But instead of saying: “Hey Penny, see that plastic pencil box you’re using that actually holds the pens because it’s a durable material? It’s already been invented!”… I let it go to see what would happen. Surely the teacher would tell her it was a terrible idea and help her come up with a better one. But guess what? She did not.

Putting Process Over Product

I know, you educators are probably eons above me in this story and you can already see where it’s headed, but Penny’s teacher didn’t care about the product. Instead, she used the invention project to teach the kids through the process. Penny may not be winning any invention awards, but she learned the process of inventing. She had to make a working prototype. She had to work with a team. In order to do that, they had to learn Google Docs to share their notes. They learned how to put together a powerpoint presentation (filled with funny GIFs and cute kitty pictures). None of this felt like work to Penny because she was so excited about their amazing paper pencil box, she was excited to do what had to be done.

Tricking Ourselves Into Learning

As grown ups, these same situations often arise, but I feel like sometimes we ignore the lessons. If something’s hard, we want to forget it and move on instead of analyze what we’ve learned and move forward. Because we choose to ignore the lessons, we don’t emerge any different.

Though this applies to all circumstances, this is primarily a personal finance blog, so I think we should talk about money. I’ve witnessed tragic financial circumstances. When people hit rock bottom, they just want to start over. Everyone needs a fresh start sometime. But these people need help.

This is what I’ve learned from witnessing these situations. And I’m better for it. If we’re able to learn from the situations of others as well as our own, our education expands exponentially.

Get yourselves out into the world. Do good. Help others. When we get ourselves out there and interact with others, we are tricking ourselves into learning. But it’s up to us to apply the lessons.

What lessons have you learned from the situations of others?


February 2018 Plan Update


Maggie’s a Working Woman


  1. I didn’t realize how easy it is to get good dental work right over the border in Mexico. But I’m learning about it from some YouTube videos that explain exactly how to go about it. And I’m glad to learn it’s a viable backup option.

    Is Penny using her paper pencil box? When I was a kid, paper dresses were in fashion. We had a neighbor who worked in the garment district and brought one home for me. Who knows? Maybe Penny will start a trend.

    • MaggieBanks

      I’m sorry to report that she discovered it didn’t actually hold the pencils very well and happily went back to using the plastic one. 🙂

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