Yes, I guess my mind is turning into a Japanese t-shirt. That’s a good thing While I’m at it, here is a whole string of truisms coming at ya:
- Do what you love and love what you do.
- Love what you learn and learn what you love.
- Bored or frustrated with what you are learning? Here are two options: change what you are learning or change your mind.
- Fun doesn’t mean easy.
The other day I was doing my Chinese exercises by the beach and was graced by both the sight Mount Fuji and a fleeting glimpse of a rainbow. I caught it all on my iPhone. In between Nei Kung sets, I did little flashcard reviews using my Midori app. In these brief little sprints, I stop when a word repeats or when I get bored. (AJATT and other immersion experts recommend studying sentences rather than single words but I enjoying having little bursts of vocabulary exercise.)
As I went through the cards, I noticed that I was really remembering the cards I had some fond, personal connection to rather than the cards I just collected by more formal ‘studying.’ I remembered that どじょう was loach fish (wth?) because it was a word I had collected while my daughter was singing karaoke with my father-in-law. I could picture the cartoon face. Last night I looked up ひやひや (chilly or fearful) and can remember that it was a word a Japanese ping pong player used to describe her team’s close game.
Love what you learn and learn what you love.
It’s a non-vicious cycle. Turn to the things that you want to learn and master (guitar, economics, starting your own business, the interwebs) and it makes it easier to learn. Turn to the things that you love, and it will help you learn (and do) more. My Japanese ‘studies’ improved when I decided to use it to read self-help books, my guilty pleasure.
Change what you are learning or change your mind.
Change it up. AJATT has a hilarious post called, ‘That Righteous Feeling, Or: If You’re Not Feeling Naughty, You’re Doing It Wrong.’ Khatzumoto basically argues that if you are reading a book in your target language out of duty or obligation instead of fun, you are actually hurting your learning efficiency. I think this is true even if you aren’t learning a language.
I think it’s also possible to change your mind about what you are learning and ask what’s the fun in this? Sometimes I get a lot more out of just reading the table of contents of a Japanese book rather than boring myself by struggling through every page and killing my desire to read. Everything is fair in love, reading, and learning.
Fun doesn’t mean easy.
Kenichiro Mogi, author of several books on the the brain （ 脳） loves to talk about the dopamine effect. He explains that overcoming mental hurdles and challenges releases endorphins and dopamine that create feelings of happiness. It’s why some people love video games, mountain climbing and even algebra.
A lot of people idolize Jimi Hendrix as a rock god. (Yes, I am not worthy.) But what a lot of people don’t acknowledge is all the hours of work that he put in to play the guitar so well. He walked around his apartment with his guitar strapped on. And he didn’t forget the fun. Hard work + love + fun= dope (dopamine)
Learn what you love and love what you learn. Become the Jimi Hendrix of your life. Climb the mountain! Catch the rainbow!
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