Are you a 'glass half full' or a 'glass half empty' type of person? Positive thinking has many benefits on all levels, but what is it exactly, how do we do it - and how can this benefit your English learning?
Our English students are arriving and feeling motivated to kick start their new year with a bang.
But, I had the distinct impression that most people felt 2016 was not a very positive one for them, and everyone was just looking forward to it being over and done with.
A blog post on wired recounts some of the positive things about the previous year, and reminds us to not focus only on the negative. You can read about all the great things that happened in 2016 here.
Research and studies into the power of positive thinking is gaining real traction and there are ample people out there who attest to the real mental, emotional, spiritual and physical impact that positive thinking actually has on us.
So, what does it actually mean to think positively?
Some people seem to very naturally positive. They are what we would consider ‘glass half full’ types of people (as opposed to ‘glass half empty’). But, it’s not only about ‘being happy’, or displaying a ‘good attitude’. Our brains are pre-programmed to respond to negative emotions by focussing only on negative impetus. In a great blog post by James Clear for HuffingtonPost he explains that it’s like crossing a tiger on your path, and you immediately only think about how to get away from the tiger and your first instinct is to run. You don’t really consider any other options except to get away. Or, when you are not eating well or keeping fit and the only thing you think about is how lazy you are and how unmotivated you are feeling, and you cannot think about anything else except how you are not eating well, and feeling lazy and unmotivated. Basically, our brains only deal with negative emotions and like fear, anger and stress, but the problem is that our brains then keep us from actually seeing any other options.
In a nutshell, positive thinking actually broadens your mind and not only allows you to see more options for solving problems, reaching a goal, or overcoming an obstacle, but also provides opportunities for skill development for your future. The list is long about the actual benefits of positive thinking (not to mention that most people enjoy being around positive happy people more than negative, miserable and pessimistic people).
So, we all understand it – positive thinking is good for you and can actually help you. But how, do you do it?
Huffingtonpost suggests meditation, writing and play (all work no play is not the motto we should be living by!).
Other tips include:
• Smile more
• Surround yourself with positive people
• Take responsibility for your own life
• Take the time to be grateful for things you have and don’t dwell on the things you don’t have
In terms of your English studies, staying positive will help you to stay motivated. Unmotivated people struggle to start things, to pull through with things or complete them. Imagine this in terms of homework. If you are feeling negative, and focusing only on what you cannot do or what you do not know, then you will struggle to do anything, or move to the next level because you have no space in your brain for thinking about anything else. You are consumed by negative feelings and thoughts. Your energy is going wasted. If you have an achievable goal (IELTS exam band 7 pass, moving to the next English level, using specific vocabulary on a regular basis, etc.), and believe you can attain it – then it will be much easier to stay on course and achieve that goal. Sure, there will be some hard days, but that’s just what they are – hard days – nothing more and nothing less. Use positive, reinforcing language when you speak to others, and especially when you speak to yourself. If you are feeling down about something, give yourself a pep talk and remind yourself how far you have come, or what you have already achieved. Don’t forget that hard work and determination must come from inside you, but you can only do this when you have the right frame of mind. We offer support to all our students in terms of their learning goals, and also longer term goals of applications to the University of Cape Town.
So, start the year off with a positive mind and believe it will be great. To our present English students, take a deep breath and remember why you chose to learn English and all the positives it will bring to your life. Stay motivated and be great this year. To our future students who have booked an English course with us and will be starting this year, we look forward to meeting you and are sure you will be bringing a lot of fresh, positive and motivated energy with you. Don’t be afraid of what is to come, because it is going to be great. We are here to help you, and we have many students who are returning to study with us because their experiences were so good.
May 2017 be wonderful for everyone!