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?