100 Ways To Live A Better Life – 14. Learn A New Language

Challenge your mind. Constantly. If you’re going to do number 10 (which is, just in case you forgot, travel long distance), you’re going to learn some new languages too. From my experience, learning a new language is a fantastic mind opener. Sometimes you don’t even have to travel there.

And if we’re talking about languages, remember that we do live in an information era. Everything is a language. Try learning simple things related to this like HTML. Or, even simpler, try to learn the meaning of emoticons in a chat.

Back to real languages, every time you describe reality in a new way, it will expand. So, every time you will name the same thing in different languages, you will actually re-create that thing. This is why I consider polyglots to be very rich people.

Try describing the part in your life you want to grow in different languages. You’ll be surprised by the results. 

How To Learn A New Language

First of all, let’s think about where you’ll use this new language. Learning it is ok, at a theoretical level, we saw that already, but where you should use it is also very important. If you plan to learn a new spoken language, there must be some intention to use it constantly somewhere. Or with somebody.

You can, of course, go all by yourself, learn it just for the sake of it, like a mind gymnastics, and be completely self-taught, but if you’re not going to use it, it will eventually fade away.

One way to go with this is to find a learning partner. Someone with whom you can go to classes and rehearse. Someone who will act as your “sparring partner”. Plan ahead and put aside the time. Follow up. Challenge one another. You will learn faster and you will also have a context in which you’ll use the new language, which will delay the decay, so to speak.

Another way to go is to blend it into your career (or lifestyle). If you plan to change your career and that will involve traveling somewhere else, you should start learning that new language. Or if your career involves something technically related, like supervising geeks, you’d better start learning that geeky language yourself. Just to be sure you know what they are actually doing.

Another approach, still in the “lifestyle blending” area would be about interacting with other people, with whom you usually don’t interact. For instance, try to understand the sign languages of people with hearing handicaps. It would be very interesting to understand how they communicate, believe me.

Or, try to understand the body language. It’s called kinesthetic, and it’s about how your body and moves are influencing your understanding of the world. There is a lot of significance in each and every posture we take. If we lean forward a bit, if we stay on the side, everything tells a bit of untold stuff about how the other person relates to us.

All of the above are languages. And by learning just one of them, your reality will really expand.

As you can see, learning a new language is, ultimately, about interaction. Language is created by interaction. If you don’t interact, you don’t need language. And it’s also about agreement. If there’s no agreement that the word “agreement” means “agreement” then we won’t have an agreement.

So to speak. 🙂

further reading

Chinka Paah

The Language Of Happiness

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