I’ve heard it since I was little – Chinese is THE hardest language in the world! Back then before I knew anything about the language I would stare at the beautiful characters and wonder, exactly what makes it so hard to learn Chinese? It wasn’t until I got much older and decided to tackle learning the language that I have come to think that not only is Chinese not the hardest language to learn, but that I think the reason why people say it is is because of a fear of something different.
This is not to say that learning a language is easy – all languages require that you give time, dedication, a lot of hard work and effort in learning and practice and even to go out of your comfort zone regularly. However, I disagree that Chinese is any harder than any other language.
I used to have a serious confidence problem.
It shouldn’t really be surprising, I was fat and awkward and nerdy and shy. Alone those attributes tend to not contribute to being bold and self-confident, combined they made for the perfect cocktail of personality traits to absolutely destroy any chance of committing myself to anything.
As a result of that, there were tons of opportunities I missed out on my whole life because I was too scared to fail.
Timid people don’t make history.
Timid people back down when they’re faced with a challenge. Successful people are the bold ones, the ones who go all in and understand that the only two ways to truly be defeated are to quit or to die.
Xiang Yu knew this was true as early as 208 B.C. When his small army crossed the Yellow River to reinforce Julu (an area that’s now the city of Xingtai in Heibei province) he found his 50,000 men faced by a Qin army of 400,000 soldiers. Knowing that his men would have to fight their hardest to defeat an army that outnumbered them so badly he ordered them to save three days worth of food, destroy their kettles and cooking utensils and sink the boats they’d used to cross the river.
I have never in my life been an early riser.
In fact I was quite the opposite – a quintessential night owl who was more likely to be heading to bed when most others would be waking up. On top of that when you did finally wake me up I was generally grumpy, malicious and horrible to be around. For the first few hours I’d shuffle around filled with hate for everything until I woke up all the way.
That is until recently, when I finally made the transition to being able to wake up early and actually feel happy and energized.
Now I love waking up early. So what are the benefits to getting up early instead of sleeping in late?
I am a man who enjoys his to-do lists.
There’s just something about getting out a physical piece of paper and a pen and actually putting the things I need to accomplish in a day down in ink that feels really good. It makes it feel like I have something concrete to work from, something to keep me on track and focused. When I make a really solid to-do list I feel like there’s absolutely no way I won’t get all of that stuff done.
And by the end of the day, I haven’t done any of it.
So what’s going on? How do you make the jump from making a great to-do list to actually doing what’s on it?
Yesterday I introduced my latest challenge, attempting to change my productivity style from oscillating between frantic productive bursts and long depressive periods of idleness to a nice steady stream of consistent if small accomplishments.
As I explained in the other article, I’d like to go from being a hare (someone who sprints through tasks in bursts then goes through an extended cooldown period) to a tortoise (someone who works consistently on tasks for an extended period of time). To get used to working as a tortoise I’m challenging myself to go 330 consecutive days writing one article, learning 15 new words and mobilizing my ankle for 4 minutes every single day. So how am I going to pull it off?
That’s where Jerry Seinfeld comes in.
It’s been a while since I’ve put myself up for any kinds of challenges so I decided recently that I was way overdue for one. The problem was, I wasn’t sure what kind of challenge I should take.
On top of that, things have been kind of crazy lately and my normal writing schedule has been completely obliterated. As a result I have a huge backlog of articles I’ve been wanting to write and publish, but haven’t been able to actually sit down and take care of all of them. Additionally having recently wrecked one of my ankles in a bad landing while practicing vaults, I’ve been struggling to get my old mobility back now that it’s finished healing.
As a result I’ve decided to make this latest challenge all about productivity.
Specifically long term productivity.
Pull ups are easily one of, if not the, most psychologically intimidating exercises for people who are just starting out.
There is hope though. I have gone from being completely unable to do a single pull up to currently doing multiple sets of them with additional weight hanging off of me and you can do the exact same thing. All you have to do is follow these easy progressions and you’ll be rocking out pull ups in no time.
Mindfulness has been becoming a bit of a ‘thing’ over the last few years and I think in many ways is becoming one of the next new buzzwords.
I’m conflicted in how I feel about this – on one hand I think mindfulness applied properly is an extremely useful tool in improving people’s lives and is genuinely something I feel everyone should practice, on the other hand I’m concerned about the corruptive process of becoming a fad.
Given the new interest in it, I thought this was as good a time as ever to explore the basics of mindfulness and introduce one of my absolute favorite techniques for cultivating it – moving meditation.
English Prime, or E Prime, is a constructed variant of standard English developed in the 60s in order to provide a form of English that reduced or eliminated any difficulty of the listener or reader to distinguish between fact and opinion and make the biases of the writer or speaker more evident.
Like most languages created for the purpose of promoting sweeping social and cultural good (cough, Esperanto, cough) it never really took off beyond a small group of hardcore devotees.
While it’s merits as a clearer form of English are debatable, the premise behind it and the form of it can actually teach us a lot about the way we perceive things in the world and help us be more mindful in our thinking.