By Mary-Jane Liddicoat (published Korea Times)
Have you ever heard someone say: what if study were fun and success easy? If you said 'no' then you would be in the majority. But what if it were possible? If you are curious then read on. I will share three simple tools to help you create this as a possibility.
Having worked in Seoul for 10 years and seeing a stream of unhappy people trudging to work, school and university everyday, I began asking questions. Why are Korean families, workers, students, even young children stressed and depressed about just about everything?
Clearly the idea that study could be fun and success easy is not a common concept in a country like Korea. I suspect most Koreans would get angry at me for even suggesting it. Where is the value in fun and ease, they would say. Most people equate value with hardship, suffering and sacrifice.
How often have our parents, teachers and leaders told us that life is hard and we must sacrifice ourselves for the good of our children, our company, our nation? I guess we would hear this everyday at least once. So it's no surprise we have this idea planted firmly in our heads.
What if the value of living a no-stress life of ease and joy was that you lived a longer, healthier, more productive and creative life? And what if this in turn increased the economic prosperity of your family, company, and nation? Would that be valuable?
Interesting different point of view? It has been scientifically proven that stress and a negative thoughts can make us sick. Knowing this, are you surprised that rates of chronic dis-ease and ill health in Korea keep rising and Korea boasts one of the highest suicide rates in the OECD? Even those who have achieved 'success' - film stars and singers - are choosing suicide as an escape at rates seemingly higher than the national average.
So what if by the mere fact that we are constantly telling ourselves that our lives are only valuable if they are hard, that is exactly what we make them?
What would happen if we chose to think differently? Could we become healthier, more productive and creative? Could we become like Nobel Prize winners who view their 1000 'failed' experiments with excitement and enthusiasm knowing that something is yet unknown, something which inspires them with joy to pursue? (As you know, Nobel Prizes are only awarded for discovering the unknown.)
So the first simple tool I will share is to consciously look at your life differently and demand a different possibility.
Instead of waking up every morning, slipping unconsciously into the no-fun, hard, trauma and drama reality that everyone else chooses, what if every morning you said 'all of life comes to me with ease and joy and abundance'?
By saying this one thing, you are consciously saying: I choose differently - I choose ease and fun and prosperity - bring it on! Who knows what this simple shift in outlook might bring? How much more productive and creative might you be? Could you be free of tiredness and disease?
(There is one caveat: you have to really choose it. If you're one of many who love their hardship and suffering as a way of seeking attention, then this will not work until you give that up.)
Hey, this is free, it doesn't hurt you, and won't hurt anyone else, so you would not try it for what reason? Who knows what will show up? What else could be truly possible for you?
Want to know more? Read on...
What if study were fun and success easy? (Part 2)
Einstein famously said, ``If I had 60 minutes to solve a problem and my life depended on it, I'd spend 55 minutes determining the right question to ask. Once I got the right question, I could easily answer it in five minutes.''
How much of our lives do we spend trying to find the answer, rather than asking a question? And not just any answer, but the ``right'' one; the answer that will bring us success and happiness?
How much of our energy goes into formulating answers such as: if I go to ``this school,'' study ``this subject,'' work at ``this company,'' invest in ``this stock,'' marry ``this person,'' buy ``this house'' in ``this neighborhood,'' I will be successful and happy?
Do you usually get it right? Considering the unhappy faces I see in the streets everyday and the high rate of suicide in Korea - especially among the so called successful echelons of the rich and famous - I doubt most people in Korea feel they do.
What if, like Einstein, instead of spending time and energy on looking for the answer, we asked more questions? Could this make study fun and success easier?
Ask a question
What sort of questions could you ask? Here are a few of my favorites.
What truly excites, inspires and empowers me?: Do you find study or work difficult or tiresome simply because you are not interested in the field? What if you were so excited by your chosen field that study and work became a joy? How much more successful could you become - what contribution to society could you make - by simply doing wholeheartedly what inspires you, instead of half-heartedly doing what you think you should?
What else is possible?: If you're not yet ready to jump in at the deep end and choose wholeheartedly for yourself, try this question. Rather than coming to a conclusion or judgment about what you ``can't'' change, what's ``not possible,'' ask what else ``is possible.'' By asking yourself this and those around you, you are inviting new possibilities into your life. Perhaps even questions that might inspire you. Ask your teacher, your boss, your spouse, your parents. As they say, don't ask, don't get.
What's right about this that I'm not getting?: What happens when your plans suddenly change or go wrong, or you don't get something you want? Most people feel anger, frustration, disappointment, sadness, and even a sense of failure. What if, instead of reacting as if there were a problem, you asked yourself what's ``right'' about it? This question is a simple tool to get you to look from a different perspective. It is exactly what Nobel Prize winners do when their first 1000 experiments fail; by asking another question, they discover the unknown.
Answers, conclusions, decisions, and judgments will always limit your possibilities. Questions will invite new ones. What if instead of the normal question/answer paradigm, you adopted the habit of question/receive/question/receive ad infinitum?
What if you asked ``what would it take for study to be fun and success easy?'' Have you ever considered this as a possibility, or have you always been told it has to be ``hard?'' Instead of seeing yourself as a failure for not getting into ``that school'' or ``that company,'' ask what's right about it and what else is possible.
Finally, ask ``what's right about me that I'm not getting?'' Join me for more on this in my final article next week.
This is free and it won't hurt you or anyone else, so you would NOT try it for what reason? What else could be possible for you?
Want to know more? Read on...
What if study were fun and success easy? (Part 3)
A recent UNICEF survey found that Korean children are the unhappiest in the OECD. As a nation, Korea has continued to grow and mature: it has become a democracy, a wealthy OECD member, a globally known technology brand, and will host a G-20 summit.
So what's up with the happiness of Korean children?
Could it be the rigid criteria for success: becoming rich, famous, or a member of an 'elite' profession or first tier company? The prescribed way to achieve this being an intensive path of study from an ever younger age (pre-school) and training 24/7 to pass a rigid system of exams.
If you deliver this outcome, you are successful. If not, you're a failure, or at best, less than others. Does this sound like it would contribute to happiness?
Who is successful?
Who do you think of when you think of success? Someone rich and famous like Richard Branson or Beyonce, or someone contributing to the world like Einstein or Mother Teresa?
Whoever represents your idea of success, ask yourself whether they followed a prescribed system. Were they unhappy, half-hearted, unexcited, uninspired and disenfranchised in the process? Was their aim to be like someone else? Or were they being themselves and in the process changed the world?
It seems that most of us spend our lives feeling like 20, 50 or 80 per cent of someone else, instead of being 100 per cent of ourselves. Perhaps it has never occurred to us that we could be the most valuable and make the greatest contribution by knowing, and being ourselves.
How much of our stress and sense of failure stems from our self judgment that we're not as good as someone else? I'm not clever enough. I didn't work hard enough. I'm not (choose one or all) pretty, thin, handsome, rich, [add your own complaint here] enough. I'm not enough like "them."
There are plenty of people reinforcing this system. Bullies in all walks and at all levels of society work hard to keep others 'less than', out of fear of losing their place at ``the top."
What if there were no ``top" and ``bottom"? Do you see that if we were all 100 per cent ourselves, we become truly unique and competition becomes a non-issue? How can one unique thing be better or worse than the other? Each makes a unique contribution.
Be you and change the world
What if, like Einstein and Mother Teresa you could be you and change the world? What much needed innovation and change could we generate in society if we each contributed 100 per cent of our unique talents, abilities and inspirations, and were in allowance of ourselves and others? Would that be valuable? Would that make study fun and success easier?
What do I mean by allowance? Being like a rock in the stream, totally aware and without judgment of the world's trauma, drama, thoughts, feelings, emotions, opinions, attitudes and beliefs. Only by being this aware can you know what choice will make the greatest contribution. If not, unconscious judgments will limit your awareness and you'll end up being sucked unconsciously along and choosing what someone else has decided is valuable to them.
I have tools for another day to help you stay in allowance. Today's will help you ease up on your self judgment and help you better know you. Ask: 'what's right about me that I'm not getting?' and 'if I were me, what would I be, that would contribute to me, others and the planet'? Only you will know what you receive from these questions. Take it and play.
This is free and won't hurt you or anyone else, so you would not try it for what reason? What else is possible for you?
What inspired you to study Arabic? A family connection? A fascination with the language's complexity and beauty? A work requirement? Or an interest in the conflict in the Middle East and possible a desire to contribute to peace?
Whatever your motivation, studying Arabic probably brought you closer to the ongoing conflict than most other people living outside the region.
I am guessing this because that's what happened to me. In 1995, a quirk of fate took me to Egypt and Syria to study Arabic for four years. I had spent the previous decade studying and working in Japan and knew almost nothing about the Middle East. The only thing I did know was that the region seemed to always be at war, but I didn't know why.
So I thought I'd pick the brains of an Egyptian diplomat in Canberra over lunch. I began our lunch with "When and how did the fighting start?" He smiled and began "About 2000 years ago...." then went on to detail who did what, when, where, and why, and then who retaliated. And so on for the full lunch hour. The complete chronicles of war in the Middle East.
It seemed strange that there had been no change in the situation for so long, particularly when I got to know a wide range of kind, educated and caring people from various countries, cultures and religions in the region. What was preventing change?
After another quirk of fate took me to Korea for 12 years, I saw the phenomenon again. Korea, like the Middle East, is another world 'hot spot' with similar deeply entrained conflict, first with its neighbours Japan and China and since 1953 with each other. Today, Korea remains the world's most famous divided country, most recently again in a 'state of war'.
What I began to see was that people were simply stuck in a point of view, so much so that they were willing to die for the rightness of this point of view. They would rather be right (and at war) than free.
As I looked around I saw this was how most people functioned: trapped in the polarity of right and wrong. And yet at the same time, as I travelled the world, I also saw how different cultures sometimes held polar opposite points of view to be either right/wrong, good/bad.
What I came to understand was that right and wrong were simply "interesting points of view." As Shakespeare puts it elegantly in Hamlet "there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so."
How likely is conflict resolution if somewhere, someone does not change something? According to Einstein the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.
Einstein also considered the only constant to be change. So what if conflict resolution -- be it be between families, nations or with ourselves about studying a language -- were as simple as changing our thinking?
Can you ever change anyone else? No. You can only be the invitation to change.
The one thing you can change is you.
So my invitation is this. Ask yourself, whatever your motivation for studying Arabic, what would you like to change about it?
What if everything were possible? What would you choose? The same? Or something different?
And of course when someone chooses not to change, they are not wrong. It is simply a matter of choice.
What else is possible with you, Arabic & the Middle East?
Find out about five days of creating greater possibilities - click here.
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Are you looking to improve your Arabic or your grades in general? Perhaps you're looking to get a new or better job? Or are you simply seeking more in life?
What if a question could help? My new book 91 Days of Q - questions to help you create the life you desire provides simple, practical questions to help unstick you from places you get stuck and to help you see greater possibilities.
All these questions are available for free, online at www.thedailyq.co. Or gift yourself a copy of the paperback, eBook pdf or audio version to keep you in the zone no matter where you are?
Wishing you a joyous festive season! Mary-Jane
What if study were fun & easy?
What are your points of view about study, including about going to school, college, or university and about learning anything in general?
That's it's hard, will take a long time and lots of money? That you're not smart or diligent enough? That you shouldn't rest, sleep, or enjoy yourself because you should be studying?
How many vested interests are making study hard for you? Do teachers want you to outshine them? No. Do after school tutoring businesses want you to hire them? Yes. And other students? Do they want you to see your talent? No.
Are you willing to consider a different possibility? If so, ask “What if study were easy and fun?”
What if you approached study with the energy of an insatiable curiosity about things that inspire you?
What if you were excited about learning new ways to expand your natural talents?
Would study be more fun, easier, and more rewarding then?
Like to know more? Visit www.thedailyq.co
Have you ever bought our textbook/audio package? First, thank you :) Second, you are welcome to buy the NEWLY re-edited audio files. Just ask.
A few weeks ago we sent out this invitation to our existing list. We now realise that some people didn't receive this email and some may not have been on the list at all. Sorry. Sorry. Sorry.
So, if this is you, please let me know (including details of your original purchase order in whatever form you have available - even memory of year/month and your name so we can cross check my records) and we will send you a link to purchase the upgraded files for only $4.
We have just invested and edited all 180+ minutes of our audio files so that each exercise is now its own MP3 file. This will let you more easily pick and choose what audio you'd like to listen to and put it on loop for practice. Phew. This took a while! To cover our costs, and for CPI adjustment, we have increased the price of our book/audio package to $49.
If you have already bought the package and would like the new audio, we will contact you directly over the next few weeks to offer you the new audio files for $4.00.
We are now planning stage two of our audio update, which is to add English to the vocabulary lists so you can practice them without referring to the text book. Stage two will probably take until mid-2013.
Over the next few months, we are re-mixing our audio material and recording some new bits, so that no matter where you are - car, bus, train or on foot - you can listen to the conversations and vocab lists again, and again, without needing the text book. We have just completed Chapter One.
Now, rather than the audio being one large MP3 file
- each conversation, vocab list and exercise (marked with an audio tape sign in the book) will have its own easily identifiable MP3 file and
- conversations, vocab lists and exercises are repeated three times
How do you download this new material?
The new MP3s will be available for download via the links sent to you in your registration confirmation email (register here) or via a link in the monthly newsletter (5th of each month).
You also receive the files when you buy the book online via this site.
After we complete this basic re-mix of the complete book, we will then create NEW audio material, incorporating more English, to help you practice the material on the move, even if you don't have the textbook in front of you. Thank you for your patience.
Other students find your feedback very useful. What did you think?
- Was it worth your investment (time, money, other)?
- Did it help you with anything in particular?
- How did you use it as well as your existing course material?
- What else?
Are you wiling to share? If so, thank you very much and send your interesting points of view to me here.
Don't want to read? Click and listen to a short 'About this book' here.
Or listen to the entire Overview, including about the relationship between Syrian Colloquial Arabic, Modern Standard Arabic, and others here.
Learning a language can be challenging. Below is our list of study tips. We also recommend visiting the Language Learning Advisor, who has a much more comprehensive list and some really great ideas to help.
1. Be aware of your point of view. If your point of view is that learning Arabic, a language or anything is hard, then that is what will show up. So take the point of view that learning Arabic is fun and easy. Want to know more? Check out this article What if study were fun and success easy?
2. Relax and enjoy yourself. You will be much more successful if you are. If you really can't relax and you find that you are overly stressed or depressed at your lack of progress, then find something else to learn and enjoy yourself.
3. Find the method that suits you. Everyone has their own style. Some have a visual memory and need to see words written down before they can remember them. Others need to hear words, or use them in conversation before they are lodged in their brain (that's me). Simply, there's no point in sitting in a course or using material that does not suit your style.
4. Get the right tools. Downloading our course book and audio materials is a good start. You could also use a dictionary, a grammar book, and a phrase book or two, a small notebook to carry with you to jot down new words, and access to authentic material, including newspapers, magazines, books, and DVDs (my favourite was TV soap operas).
5. Meet the right people. If you are not studying in the Middle East, make a native Arabic speaking friend. If you are studying in an Arabic speaking country, make sure you associate with people who don't want to practice their English on you. Join a club or work part time (or volunteer) somewhere where you will need to use the language and can make friends. You will have a common, understood interest which will make conversations much easier.
6. Make it a habit. Do a little (or a lot!) every day. Take your notebook and dictionary with you everywhere and jot down, or look up words you don't understand. If you can get a small electronic dictionary, hang it around your neck and use it all the time. It worked a treat for me.
7. Be totally immersed. Don't speak English or spend time on the internet reading English websites or watching English TV. Find enjoyable Arabic alternatives.
8. Do not be afraid of mistakes. Making mistakes when you speaking, reading or writing means that you are actually speaking, reading or writing. Practice is the best way to learn and improve.
9. Be aware it’s a different way of thinking. Sometimes you may not comprehend something not because you don’t know the Arabic words, but because the point of view is different to the one you know. Be as open as you can to new or different ways of thinking about everything.