I came across a couple of interesting things related to mindfulness recently and thought perhaps they are all linked and talk about the context of learning languages. In fact, these stuff have given me an opportunity to reflect on how I approached languages in the past.
The first trigger came yesterday when I was reading an interesting Chinese book, “留学博客” and a paragraph stayed with me:
“不能辜负自己的角色。这世上有多少人都每天每夜辜负着自己的各种角色？可能他们仍然很出色，即便不是很敬业却仍然做得不错， 但是过去的一个学期教会我，敬业本身就是一种最高境界的出色， 跟结果无关， 如果光有能力， 却不尽心尽力、踏踏实实， 想来也是一种出色的躯壳， 没有心。”
“Don’t let your role (that you are playing) down. Just how many people are letting their different roles down everyday? There is this possibility that they (these people) are still outstanding as they are still doing very well though they are not professional enough. And this past semester has taught me that being professional is the highest realm of excellence. Being professional has nothing got to do with results. If one has the abilities but do not do one’s best and is not down to earth, this person is only but an outstanding shell, one without a heart.” — pardon me for the lousy translation~
Well, I identified with this immediately and have to say that I am guilty of this. Guilty of not being “professional” to language learning or any role that I hold. Well, I’m not going to dwell on the other roles I hold, rather I am going to focus on language learning. There’re so many things to say about immersing oneself in the foreign language. Well, I’m not saying that one shouldn’t do so, instead, you should. Anyone who’s learning a language should. But what I want to say is how you commit to it. Are you going to do it half-heartedly? Or just merely enjoy it? OR being mindful of this process when you are having fun? I like to think this could be the reason why some people progress faster than others at language learning. Seriously I wasn’t really sure if my way of thinking is right until I read this interesting article from Slate about being mindful (while waiting for my turn at the dentist~ LOL), “How to think like Sherlock Holmes“.
The simple statement (by Sherlock) that got me was, “You see but you do not observe.” I was reminded of my days in high school of a teacher who said a similar thing to a classmate of mine, “You hear but you do not listen.” This might sound mean but up till this very day, I can’t deny that there is so much truth to this statement. Anyway, the article talked a lot about how being mindful helps us in many areas and I feel that knowing mindfulness can help us in our language learning.
“The confluence of seeing and observing is central to the concept of mindfulness, a mental alertness that takes in the present moment to the fullest, that is able to concentrate on its immediate landscape and free itself of any distractions.”
“It (mindfulness) can also strengthen connectivity in the brain, specifically in a network of the posterior cingulate cortex, the adjacent precuneus, and the medial prefrontal cortex that maintains activity when the brain is resting. Mindfulness can even enhance our levels of wisdom, both in terms of dialectism (being cognizant of change and contradictions in the world) and intellectual humility (knowing your own limitations). What’s more, mindfulness can lead to improved problem solving, enhanced imagination, and better decision making. It can even be a weapon against one of the most disturbing limitations that our attention is up against: inattentional blindness.”
And while reading this, I also realized another thing about myself. Just how mindful am I when it comes to learning languages? I have to confess that I am guilty of reaching out my phone or tablet or computer to tweet or blog instead of focusing on my language immersion process whole-heartedly. Yes, not being mindful, not concentrating, not giving my best. And strangely, that process of tweeting and blogging about the language learning process brought me to think a TED video I watched two or three years ago.
“Repeated psychology tests have proven that telling someone your goal makes it less likely to happen. Any time you have a goal, there are some steps that need to be done, some work that needs to be done in order to achieve it. Ideally, you would not be satisfied until you had actually done the work. But when you tell someone your goal and they acknowledge it, psychologists have found that it’s called a “social reality.” The mind is kind of tricked into feeling that it’s already done. And then, because you felt that satisfaction, you’re less motivated to do the actual hard work necessary. (Laughter) So this goes against the conventional wisdom that we should tell our friends our goals, right — so they hold us to it.”
I have no idea how true it is but I do think there is some truth in it. I am guilty of telling my goals and the things I was doing at a specific instance to others and yes, probably I did lesser actual hard work so DUH. Maybe I should get someone to kick my ass whenever I do things like that. LMAO.
Well, I’m not sure if this post is supposed to make sense to others but it sure makes a great deal of sense to me so here am I putting all my ideas together. Till the next post~