The Dolce Vita Lifestyle

Raeleen Mautner, Ph.D.

America recently fell in love with the record-breaking Jeopardy champion, Amy Schneider, the first transgender woman to compete—and win over a million dollars– on the game show. Despite the nasty transphobic social media snipes, Amy handled them with grace and a sense of humor—a reaction, no doubt born from a solid sense of self-worth.  I was fascinated by her intelligence, her gracious demeanor–even when she got an answer wrong—and most of all, by her self-confidence. All of these attributes are likely byproducts that stem a love of KNOWLEDGE.

At one point when Ken Jennings asked how she got to be so smart, to which Ms. Schneider explained how her mother instilled a curiosity for knowledge in her. When they would be working on spelling words, for example, the goal was not just to figure out the correct spelling, but to also explore the origin of the words, and other associations with that word.

I used to think that the idea of “love yourself first if you want to be loved” was an overused, cliché.  That is, until I recently came across the ideas of Dr. Leo Buscaglia, a professor/author who used to be referred to as “The Love Doctor”, because he was so passionate about the subject of love—and not just romantic love; far from it. Dr. Buscaglia explained why continually working on personal development gives us the capacity to love who we are and be able then to offer our best selves to others whom we love. That could me our partners, family members, friends and so forth. One of the most important ways to develop (i.e. love) ourselves, he believed—was to continually increase our knowledge base.  Leo told a story about his Italian father, who would not let him go to bed each night, until he told about something new he had learned that day. If he had forgotten to learn something earlier, he would head straight to the encyclopedia, so that he would be ready when his father questioned him!

Knowledgeable enriches our lives in several ways. It makes us more competent and more successful when we acquire the knowledge we need to achieve our goals. Smart people –in whatever the subject area–are perceived as attractive, sexy, interesting, and ageless. We respect and admire those who can analyze both sides of an argument without being close-minded, are able to converse about intriguing topics, and carry themselves with an understated confidence, knowing there is nothing to prove, nor a need to seek approval.  Being knowledgeable gives vibrancy and depth to our personality, and just makes us feel better about who we are.  

In order to attract people with these qualities into our lives, Dr. Buscaglia had it right—we have to BE a person who has these qualities to offer in exchange.

There are so many ways to learn new things.  Here are some of my favorites:

  • Read books and articles written in different time periods. Many are free to read on the Library of Congress website.
  • Watch documentaries. You can learn about different geographical areas, about history, about famous people, or even how to improve your health
  • Learn a new language.  You subscribe to online programs, watch free YouTube videos or even sign up for an Adult Education class in your district.
  • Teach yourself how to play an instrument. There are so many great resources for this—from books, to videos, to online programs. Just make sure you stick with it long enough to gain the satisfaction that comes with real competence. 
  • Look up words that you don’t understand Don’t just read past words you don’t understand. You can google the word, use dictionary.com or even get a dictionary app for your phone. 
  • Focus on the skills or information you need to achieve your most important goals. Often we have dream but we let it die out because we think we don’t have the skills or the knowledge to achieve it. Of course the goal should be reasonably achievable. From there, find a way to acquire that skillset and make a step-by-step plan to take it to fruition.
  • Read up on something you thought you would have no interest in.  You’d be surprised how pursuing unfamiliar information opens doors of enlightenment to additional areas which you never would have learned about otherwise. You will be fascinated!

What new knowledge have you gained today? Leave your comments; I would love to read them! 

BONUS READING: As many of you know, I have been writing a weekly column (in English) for l’idea magazine (I know you will enjoy reading my articles. You can find HERE. In my article this week I gathered up some interesting Italian advice on –what else—AMORE, which I hope you will enjoy!

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