Always Learn Something!

Dagmar Munn avatar

by Dagmar Munn |

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living well

If you are living with ALS, here’s a question for you: When was the last time you spent the time to learn something? It can’t include watching a TV newscast or scanning the news feed on your mobile device. I mean quality time spent with books or listening to lectures or participating in topical discussions with friends. Or any of the other traditional ways we humans learn new things.

Why learn new things?

You may ask, “Doesn’t dealing with ALS symptoms and all the disruption brought to daily routines count enough as learning? And with the low expectations for longevity, why bother at all?”

ALS hasn’t slowed down my learning, but I’ve just had to change the ways that I learn. In my pre-ALS life, I enjoyed attending workshops and seminars. Now, I turn to online webinars, downloaded books, and documentaries. On occasion, I attend a group presentation, but that involves major planning with my caregiver, whom I dearly appreciate going the extra mile to accommodate my requests!

Why bother?  

Just as it’s important to exercise our muscles and move our joints, it’s equally important to exercise our brain.

Granted, doing crosswords and solving puzzles improves working memory and the ability to remember and retrieve information. But these activities don’t expand reasoning. To tap into this essential function, we need to learn new skills and ponder ideas.

Need suggestions? I enjoy watching online TED Talks and Northeast Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Consortium webinars, and reading weekly postings from Brain Pickings.

Hours of mindless daytime TV or wandering through comments and posts on Facebook is a form of passive learning. It can quickly lead to boredom and loss of curiosity. Intentional active learning fuels confidence and creativity because we trigger creative thinking and ideas that connect unrelated things. All of those learned things are helpful when coming up with unique workarounds for ALS life.

Time spent learning something new is time spent in a flow state. We’re calm in the present moment and strengthening our immune system.

What did you learn today that you didn’t know yesterday?

In case you haven’t yet had your learning experience for the day, I’ll share this with you:

I like to collect blog posts that inspire me but hate to have a long list of links saved on a document. So, I use Pinterest to save my lists. I have a private board set up called “Favorite Sites,” then I save blog posts, research articles, webinars, almost anything, to that Pinterest board. I can return to the board any time to review what I’ve saved. It’s easy and fun!

One more thing

ALS can also stand for always learn something; it’s a new way to think of the letters A-L-S and helpful when learning to live well with ALS.


Note: ALS News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of ALS News Today or its parent company, Bionews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to ALS.


Jason H Clement avatar

Jason H Clement

I love learning new things and sharing with my fellow pALS. I publish what I learn in My Guide to Living with ALS. I am always looking for feedback from other pALS to include in future editions.

Dagmar Munn avatar

Dagmar Munn

Thank you Jason, for sharing your own suggestions via your PDF guide. I've taken a look and kudos for having up-to-date information! I did notice that your guide is mostly about using ALS medical equipment and services and does not address stress management, exercise, positive thinking or ways to stay engaged in life while living with ALS. So, that means my weekly Living With ALS columns fill the gap! Together, we offer advice, tips and hope. Thank you.

Eileen avatar


Thank you Dagmar for your post. As it turns out, we recently attended a lecture at Berkeley Law School given by a neuro-psychiatrist. He and he fellow panel members focused on learning new something new in new ways. You would have been an wonderful addition to that panel. Keep up the good work!

Dagmar Munn avatar

Dagmar Munn

Thank you Eileen -- seems we're all on the same wave length!

Monique avatar


If you’re a Christian you need to spend time in God’s Word and learn that you are healed by the stripes of Jesus. Something I’ve found very encouraging is Andrew Wommack’s DVD set called God Wants You Well found on

Dagmar Munn avatar

Dagmar Munn

Thank you for your suggestion Monique. For some, taking time to explore the writings of their particular religious beliefs can be both enlightening and emotionally supportive.

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