If you’re like me…I don’t know whether you actually are, but…you know, if you are, then you came from a country and a culture that largely frowns upon overt displays of emotion. Especially overt displays of positive emotion. Forget displays — simply having a positive mental attitude might be social suicide(?) where you’re from.
As time goes on, you might have outgrown wanting to be cool in the high school sense. You might have decided that your society sucked enough that you no longer cared if you became dead to it. But you still might carry some residual tendencies towards cynicism — so ingrained was the habit of being cynical.
So when a guy like Tony Robbins comes at you with that voice and that grin (that grin 😀 )…urging you to have a positive mental attitude, when Napoleon Hill tells you that “[w]hatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve”, when Mormon girls called Stacy [whose mother, I am reliably informed, has got it going on] smile that Utah smile and offer you cookies, your knee-jerk reaction might be to go “yeah, right”, roll your eyes rather far back into your head, and proceed to dig up the dirt behind these “tricksters”. Anyone that happy has got to be hiding something, right? Or so our culture of mediocrity would have us believe.
And then there’s the (not necessarily inevitable) fact that having hope does carry the potential to set you up for disappointment — especially in the hands of a hope novice: one almost has to learn how to use hope correctly.
My personal solution to all this is to:
1. First, avoid both hope and dread — go for a flatline — and then,
2. Gently bias myself in a positive direction by simply doubting the possibility of failure. Sure, you don’t know if you’re going to succeed, but you don’t know if you’re going to fail either. Indeed, if you did know things with such certainty, you would be effen omniscient and you should be picking stocks or something. But you’re not. You don’t know. And since you don’t know either way, you might as well assume and act in favour of the positive. To quote Dr. Annette Goodheart (who?):
“If we’re going to be miserable we might as well enjoy ourselves [and] laugh.”
So, this sometimes air-headed and always hard-to-sustain “YEEEEEEAAAAH!!! I’M GONNA DO IT, BABY!!!!” idea, is replaced with a calmer, easier “well, I’m certainly not going to fail” orientation. A strange sort of acceptance of positive inevitability. Or something to that effect. This is kind of hard for me to put into words.
More concretely, in terms of acquiring a language, what I’m trying to say is: don’t force yourself to succeed or produce or demonstrate or even to persevere. Give that up. Instead, if it suits you, you might try taking a more laid-back approach of “well, I’m going to dig up some soil, and plant some seeds, and put in some fertilizer and water, and then see what happens”, “I’m going to sow, and see what I reap”. It’s not quite “wait and see”, since that might not get you anywhere, it’s more a “do and see“, an “act and see“.
Do your work and see what happens. Don’t try to force the results; they will come when they come. No matter what you do, at some level, results are always outside your full, direct control. But action never is. You can always do the right thing [and if you don’t know what the right thing is, then the right thing might be to go find out what the right thing is]; you can always take the/a right action.
Always. No matter what situation you are in, there is always something you can do. In extreme cases, the the thing to do might be to get out of the current situation. In most cases, it’s as simple as open the book, turn on the TV, plug in the earphones.
So why did I get to thinking this? Well, I CAN WATCH AND UNDERSTAND VIRTUALLY ANYTHING ON HONG KONG TV NOW !(T+19 months) Violent triad movies, weird accents, regular TV news, parody news, phone prank shows, Korean-made documentaries about the history of noodles…bring it. In some cases I read the Chinese subs quite a bit for confirmation, but this simply shows how fast a reader I’ve become — I used to be unable to make it across even half a subpicture before it changed…now I can read it 1.5 ~ 2 times in that same brief time window. In short, my input is almost a Jedi, though my output be at youngling level.
And the weird thing is…I was barely even trying. Not really. I mean, yeah, I have Cantonese TV and movies playing close to 24/7 in my house, and put a laptop in the kitchen so I can watch things like The Simpsons Movie (that’s right, son, there’s a Canto dub…Marge, Lisa, Bart and Flanders’ voices are dead on; Homer’s is “re-interpreted” slightly, but I never liked his original voice anyway) while washing dishes, and I have Chinese comics in the restroom, and Chinese newspapers pasted all over my walls, and Chinese books permanently sitting in my manbag ready to go anywhere I do, and…yeah…and stuff. But once you get those things set up, it’s almost all just a matter of, how you say in the simple English…sitting back and watching. Once you do set up and maintain the right environment, all that’s left is to show up…to exist.
So…just do it already. But don’t wait and worry and weep and wail and gnash your teeth over results. Don’t act like a desperate stalker, always watching, always trying to get the phone number, always trying to get to second base, always asking Mummy if you’re there yet. Sitting by the door checking the clock every five seconds is not going to make the FedEx lady (yeah, my neighbourhood FedEx guy is a girl) come any quicker. Just be cool. The results will call you when they’re ready. They always call . You need only act; you need only plant; you need only keep walking — sooner or later [later than you would wish, but sooner than you would fear] the destination will practically be forcing itself into your face.
If you can’t be motivated, don’t be [I can’t]. If you can’t feel passion [I hate this word], don’t. Just be curious instead. Just keep sowing instead.