Imagine you have a method of turning all your negative energy into positive energy. And imagine that you could kill two birds with one stone—not through yoga or extensive self-help classes, but by learning a language.
What might seem like a lot of work, and just more stress on top of your already busy lifestyle is actually just a matter of being willing to become a better version of yourself. One that is more worldly, cultural, and better connected with others.
Language does that. Language excites you. Expands you. Transforms you. Improves you.
Taking care of your health should be priority number one, but many people hardly ever think about their energy as a part of their health. In this article, I’m going to show you how to turn your negative energies into positive ones by learning a language.
Energy Affects Your Health
It is no secret that energy can affect you. Our environment is shaped by energies both positive and negative. We, as empathetic creatures, (most of us, I suppose. Some people obviously lack any kind of compassion) are influenced by these energies.
Our wellness depends on interpreting our environments as something stunting or something constructive, and often we fall short of getting beyond the less savory forces.
You know the ones… they tell you to quit. To stop everything and give up. The oppression from unfamiliar spaces, drastic lifestyle or situational changes, constant employer, or family pressures. The forces that tell you that you’re not enough.
Negative energy can cause stress, irritability, depression, and force you into a reclusive or unmotivated state.
Sure, you can put bricks in the wall and ignore the negativity, but you’re still surrounded by it. You still feel it. And that’s why we need to transform that negative energy into something positive, and we can do this by focusing on something constructive.
Let our environment change and adapt to what we’re really focused on; ourselves, our goals, and our projects.
Learning a Language as a Way to Combat Negativity
Blah blah, wellness…energies, WHATEVER, it’s time to tell you a story.
I am Kade and I’m fluent in Japanese, semi-fluent in Spanish, getting fluent in Tagalog/Waray/Cebuano, and write fantasy books in English. I live and work in all my languages every day, write about it, cry, and repeat. Everyday (wow, are you gloating?!).
But I wasn’t always this chrome, sparkly, and sexy. Surprising, right? The world is weird.
There was actually a time when I was a monolingual white boy living in the backwoods of the world surrounded by people of drastic ethnic contrast, in a state of perpetual depression and oppressive home life.
It was so bad, I had considered things that frighten me today to think about—breaking myself was all I could think about to relieve myself of the negativity that gripped me.
At the time, I was growing up in the rural countryside with a school of about 600, no friends, no accountable family members, and no real motivation for the future. My writing brought me no joy, my musical passions died, and I was utterly lost.
And so, I decided that I had enough. I needed it to all change otherwise it would end me.
Let me tell you: when someone like me is backed into a corner, they will not try to weasel their way out of it or climb up the walls for an escape. No, they do the thing that most drastic: they throw themselves into the obstacle and make something new out of it.
I chose language learning because I could make it my “craft” and all of that negative energy I could concentrate and turn it into a passion for learning. I essentially turned my negative energy into positive energy by using it to focus on things I liked doing.
But not only that. I also chose a language that had an associated culture that was fundamentally opposite from my own—when you work to get out of your headspace but cannot physically get out of your space, you might resort to immersing yourself by other means.
Japanese brought me a culture that was completely foreign to me—yet warm! When you’re in an unfamiliar space, all you have left to do is learn and experience new things.
You expand yourself, change your environment (in your mind), and enhance your ideas with a new culture… and a new identity.
The Language Hamburger—What Language Does For Your Health
You might believe all this talk about learning languages for your health is hogwash and… Kade, go get a check-up. But I’m super cereal about it! Language learning is akin to exercising, but not exercising for the body.
It’s exercising the mind.
Your body works from top-down. Your health is maintained by how your hormones are regulated and distributed in your body. Depression, guilt, rage, and other faulty senses of human expression only harm us.
Many people suffer from long bouts of uselessness. They find pleasure in nothing and a motivation to do nothing. Their slates are filled with things they should be doing but just don’t. They lack passion.
Now, imagine that we take all of that depression, guilt, rage, and sexual frustration and apply it to something we feel good about. Concentrate and channel it into our language studies. Your problems no longer seem like problems now, do they? More like fuel and energy toward learning your language.
What results is your mind actually recalibrates itself, and it works from top to bottom. Your body feels better. You feel more energetic. You have a sense of belonging and a sense of wonderment.
Language learning is like a hamburger
There are many toppings and layers inside that seem to smash together to form a delicious, fat, meaty American sandwich.
Think of these are your negativity—layers upon layers of fattening, burdening, teasing negativity that you think you can’t do anything about because the hamburger is sitting on a plate in front of you. Teasing you. Waiting for you. But you’re not allowed to eat it. You’re on a diet. And that diet is called “depression”.
Think of language learning as being told you’re allowed to eat the hamburger.
You push the hamburger down and aim for your mouth, and your mouth is our application to learning a language. Instead of the hamburger being there out of reach and causing you all kinds of psychological harm, we decide to put it away and make it into something new.
… That was the worst analogy I’ve ever thought of, but I think you get the point.
Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Mindset, Change Your Habits
Let’s talk about routines and habits. You’ve probably spent the last few months (or years?) feeling sorry for yourself and/or your situation but not changing a darn thing about it. You spend time with the same routine, same mindset, and same habits as you had when your troubles first began.
But what if you just… didn’t do that anymore?
Let’s imagine a world where you wake up in the morning and play on your phone. You can’t wake up and don’t have any motivation to do so. You erroneously pick yourself up from your sultry and half-conscious state and set out upon your day like you always have.
You go without plans, without real passion, without a real goal to keep you focused. You blunder through your job, avoid your health, and push away ideologies because you feel they are out of reach, out of mind. You shoulder stress and shoulder bad habits. You entertain insecurities.
It all. Piles. On top. The hamburger is there and it’s real.
But what if you changed your habits? Changed your mindset? Applied yourself and excited yourself about learning a language?
I once wrote an article about how to change your mindset to learn languages (and, by extension, changing the way you address your own health).
To paraphrase, I go off on a lengthy (and very masterfully sexy) tangent about how language is like a library. You add books to a library, whose authors are varied in styles and opinions, and with each addition adds ideas.
These ideas enrich your world and expand it. You find yourself influenced by and willing to change your ideologies based on them. You imitate, study, impress upon others the success & lessons that you’ve read about.
And you know what? Language is no less than a library in itself. You learn more, see more, and experience more because you understand more. Your horizons and mindsets change.
Ideally, you want to change your thoughts. Thinking of things you’ve learned and the things you’re focused on will curve the negativity that plagues your normal routine.
You will learn to have fewer expectations for the events in your life, thus eliminating stress. You will learn to try new things, and accept and crave failure as a way to learn and build upon yourself.
And, my favorites: language will help you eliminate preconceptions about other people and their cultures, as well as appreciate your own. You will grow closer to both your native community and your newly adopted target language community. That’s not something you can buy!
Learning languages will help you focus. Your habits will change to accommodate learning your target language. Instead of playing on your phone in the morning, senselessly scrolling through social media or memes, you can make a habit of doing Anki SRS reviews, or doing a Dueling lesson.
You will begin and end your day with full immersion in your target language. You will be utterly involved, all the time, even if you are actively listening or participating. You just need to be there and be surrounded by it through music, Netflix, and Japanese candy wrappers on your wall (I can explain).
Languages will help you expand upon yourself and your understanding of the world, and let you take a step back to really examine your mental and physical health.
There are so many benefits to applying yourself to something as advantageous as learning a language, but you can do this for any type of passionate hobby. It is just up to you to actually make the first moves. Start a plan. Identify your interests.
Protect your wellness.
If you’re concerned with your wellness and wellbeing, you should try considering:
- Why do I feel this way?
- What can I do to improve?
- What kind of habits or mindsets do I have and how can I change my routine?
- What are my interests, how can I focus on something that will trickle down and improve my life?
Luckily for you, I’ve recommended the holy grail that helped me when I was about to lose myself off the deep end: languages.
But it doesn’t need to be languages. Seclude yourself from the world and hide in your hut in the woods and write your fantasy novel about a troubled writer.
Start working out if you find liberation in the gym. Go hiking and camp in the high Sierra mountains. Journey to faraway lands and experience wondrous things about our world.
Or, if you can’t do those things, consider learning a language. It can be done just by living your life as normal, without changing a thing. It’s all about immersion, and it gives you hope and goals for achieving something.
It expands your outlook of the world and gets you out of the mindset of: I am unhappy, I am wretched, I need help, but no one can help me.
Someone can help you…
If you want more language advice or more wellness advice, be sure to visit Elle’s other fabulous articles and see my own blog at 90dayfluency.com!