The exploration Mindset: Making Boring things fun and feel like not a waste of time

It isn’t hard to imagine that if you go into something trying to explore, you will come up with something interesting eventually. Also, everything is connected, if you are looking for connections, you should find them…although trying to find connections can sometimes be like iunno, work? lol However, I feel like it can turn into more of a day dream once a connection or something interesting is found, so that from there it is smooth sailing.

So the technicalities. One I thing I’ve just realized, is that when I’m trying to learn something I might need to actively stop and explore my experience, instead of just continuing to try and cram my head with stuff.

Just like mindfulness when if you are in a bad mood, you can explore that mood and it becomes less bad,exploring the mood is different from just experiencing it.

So! I tried exploring and it felt ok. What happened was I started with zhongwen.com and was just reviewing, then I went onto some new characters, but instead of just going through a bunch I started asking questions about each one like “what is the main concept?” “do you have anything to add to this observation?” “can you give three observations about this character?” “does any thing come to mind that this idea relates to in your life?”

This kinda helped for the first 2 or 3. Then I came to one where I really had very little to say. So what I did was I moved on to the words it was used in, and obseverved those, then the characters in those,
and the words they were used in. So I ended up taking notes on I guess 10 characters, 7 of which are part of words. I still feel a kind of stress from this, like I feel that lump in my throat or the need to swallow…however I feel like if I can explore endlessly and voraciously, only trying long enough to
TEST if there is something interesting, befor moving on, maybe I will be able to keep some kind of interest.

Also, after that, I though, well I have a comic book I can read now I guess I’ll do that. However, then that felt like, too easy. Like, it felt like just eating candy or something unhealthy but that tasted good. Iunno. I wonder if maybe the exploration mindset is healthy, and the mindless entertainment is unhealthy, and if I can somehow switch to only exploring. It feels like, with the exploration mindset, it’s challenging yes, but it’s also like I am responsible for my own fun, instead of sitting back to be entertained by someone else. I have to find the fun, the interesting aspects of what I’m working on. This is good because if I can do this, the “interesting things” will be probably more valuable than things I didn’t have to work to notice or discover and that are closer to common knowledge anyway.

I just started a Mandarin Blog

Before I get to the Mandarin:

I’ll get to the mandarin in a second, first I wanna talk about art. I realized that when doing art and I guess music as well, I am way more motivated when working towards a goal that I will benefit from, rather than just practice. I find I learn pretty fast already and that I can learn things as I go. Practicing just to be practicing…to possible “master” something eventually, doesn’t appeal to me as much and I think that holds me back from any practice at all. So I realized I should probably focus on acquiring skills through purposeful use of them.

The Mandarin(not the restaurant…unless you are asking me out. In either case the following bracket is to close this aside, not to create a sad face with the colon that follows it):

Now for the mandarin bit, if you haven’t guessed already. I decided I should try to find a way to do the same for mandarin, and I realized one of the best ways would be to create a journal. Btw, I can’t help but notice my art ideas(a comic at least) and my Mandarin ideas (blog) are both very social in nature and I am motivated by this I THINK, but I wasn’t a few weeks ago…like back when I wasn’t on nofap. Just throwing that out there as it’s (common)knowledge that testosterone is a pro-social hormone.

Anyways, so as soon as I started making that first post I realized, wow there is a lot of review going on here. First I have to copy and paste from google translate, double checking the characters seem to say what I want to say. Also I can look at the pinyin for the words. Then I have to copy and paste the keywords again for tags. Then I have to search for keywords in the categories, or in this case add new ones as I had no categories as it was my first post.

I thinkĀ  should do more of this, just immersing myself in Chinese, using it in my life. Using it to express myself.

Keep a beautiful journal in Chinese (Power of Aesthetics)

I stumbled on some motivational tips in a scientific america magazin
which initiated some pondering, which resulted in some ideas about what
I might enjoy doing in Chinese.

namingly, writing in a cool ass journal.
This journal has to be cool, and look cool, etc, as this will be part
of what motivates me to write in it.

Also the fact that I be able to show anyone who reads it, “this is the chinese
I know” etc, would mean everytime I write I get an instant sense of
being more chinese and that I am making visual accomplishments.

Also, the more I write in it, the more valuable it will become, especially
if I write observations about my day, or notes about myself.

I just hope I can learn enough through using it, instead of an Srs.
I mean, I hope I will memorize enough.

I plan is to make it like a TAG style Journal where I have a set of questions
that I answer every day for a week or so, then next week I will have another
set.

For each day I write, I’ll first write out the question, before answering
it so I at least get practise writing and comprehending the questions
I write out.

Also this structure means less burden on me to come up with things to
say on the spot when I write. It makes it more of a task based thing.

Although I can still write stuff afterwards for fun.

I also like this because it allows the artistin me to come out in a more
passive but stll rewarding way.

Just like when someone was asked how to turn toasting bread into a game
someone would want to play. The first thought was, make the toast “cute”.
Aesthetics seem to actually be that important.

I mean yeah you can see businesses where people stay on websites or
in stores or whatever based on beautiful or user freindly it is.
What I’m discussing here though is like, can you make doing homework,
more fun than going to a party, through proper use of aesthetics?
I hope to prove this to be the case.

Aesthetics seem to have the ability to add meaning to something.
Would samurias be as romantizised if their swords and armor didn’t look
beautiful. Probably not. Aesthetics might actually hold a huge amount
of power that we can use to our advantage by weighting our tasks
with aesthetic appeal so that the most important task, is made to be
the most beautiful,(and I guess most personalized (like adding your
own touches to the stuff you beautify)) so that they draw you in the
most.

I mean, Chinese drew me in because of it’s beauty.

That is also another thing. It would suck if liking chinese so much, I
didn’t allow myself to write in it and own my writing.

Also those writing prompts could even evolve into a game that
I could play with others. Like, everyone getting the same question
and having to answer in just a few words, but getting lot’s of comprehension
from the reading, etc.

Also, notebooks have way more context than srs cards, and after a few
reviews you will have the connections of a whole page for each page of study
instead of just one card.

Also, I will be able to draw on previous pages in future writings allowing
me to use more and better language the more I keep at it.

I went for a jog today, and after work as well, I was feeling pretty motivated.
I’m just waiting till tmr, though because I want to by nice notebook, probably
from coles/indigo

“following a formula get’s old fast”.
How about I decide each day what I’m going to write but I need to
write a minimum of 50 words plus reading a number of previous pages
chinese first just to see how much has stuck. Once it’s allo stuck I
leave it for a random review which I could even schedule as a day where
I pickĀ  few pages at random to review.

How to focus on the journey & Can you make it enjoyable?

Heres another idea,

I just thought of, when I realized, even though I
can learn Hanzi way faster, I still feel like rushing,
just getting it over with, and that that attitude is like
almost garanteed fail.

Even with something like exercise. If I were to say,
“ah, I just need to be 180lb and I’ll be set for life”
I would burn out, because then I’ve set like a goal,
an end point that I need to reach, as opposed to just
working out.

“just working out” for me, is more like, seeing every workout
as a goal in itself, where as “trying to reach 180” means
every workout inbetween counts as almost nilch/ziltch/whatever lol.

When I forget about the long term and just crank the music,
and get the pump for that day, and be strong and awesome
in the moment’s I am working out, and focus on those
things, it becomes enjoyable.

So I think it’s important, maybe especially to really focus on
feeling awesome in the moment for my performance.

Now kind of related might be that I enjoy making music more
when I’m just out for a walk and doing it to entertain myself.
In this case maybe I’m more focused on an artistic awesomeness
Still though, I mean it maybe partly about the enjoyment.

So iunno, I wouldn’t call it mindfulness exactly, but it is
about being present, making the most of the situation, basically
turning it into an expression of me(well that’s how I’ve been making
the most of things with working out etc.

I turn it into an expression of awesomeness. I play music, I make it
dramatic, almost role play. It’s also creative, even though in a
more subtle way. I pose in the mirror, I lift to the music, make
facial expressions, focus on technique(which is probably diff for everyone).
All these things enhance my experience at the gym and at this point they
come naturally I guess.

With singing etc, same kinda deal, imagining I’m on stage,
expressing myself. Being creative with how I sing, with technique,
facial expression, timber, pronounciation, etc.

My hypothesis as I sit here and reflect on all this, is that all those
little things I do, give me little boosts of dopamine.
The time between chosing to be creative in some small way, and
acting on that impulse and thus being rewarded, is so small that
the dopamine is almost instantaneous.

Let’s compare that to if I were just focusing on reaching some
far off goal. Every day that I measure myself and see that I
have not reached that goal, could be seen as a small failure in
which case dopamine would decrease instead of increasing.

That is no fun.

So what I need to do when I pick up a goal, is to not be
focused on the long term at all. I mean, I can set the goal
so I can work effectivly towards it, allocating the right amount
of time each day. Beyond that though, I need to let go of it,
and focus on enjoying every moment of the process.

How do I do that.
It seems for me it will come down to creative expression through
whatever work I am doing. It needs to be creative for the sake
of enjoyment though. Like, I have decided to do this thing, now
I want to turn it into something I love.

So part of that is I need to have decided, otherwise if something
better comes along and distracts me it wont matter if I was
enjoying myself. So I need to first decide that this thing is
important enough to me, which for Chinese it is.

Then, how do I make it fun?
For learning the hanzi, I need to write them out, so the best
I can do there, is write them in a beautiful way. The strokes,
the positioning, sentences, altering lines to make it even more
cool looking. There is a lot to play with there.
Then after creating these things, and I need to make it as
perfect as I can along with it being creative, so that I wont feel
like it’s creative but sloppy. I want it to be displayable. Then I
want to actually have them on the wall of my room, so I get constant
feedback about the beautiful work I’ve created. Constant reward
to add to my motivation.

For talking, for one I can watch funny things. For another though,
I mean, when I’m bored (yes this again), when I’m bored and I just have
chinese flowing through my head, sometimes I’ll just repeat what I can
remember, and really pronounce it as beautifully, or creatively, as I
can. It feels good to do this. Well, even to be more precise, it could
be that I like repeating things that just sound good to me for whatever
reason, iunno. I could start there, at least on rough days lol, but
in general I feel like as long as I can be creative enough I can turn things
beautiful for my entertainment.

So I’ll try to get into these things and just make them into habits.

even with doing the dishes at work, I’ve created techniques and I do
them in ways that make them beautiful. Like, iunno, like a robot, or something.
Just really, I guess efficient and maybe graceful.

This is opening up a whole new way of seeing achievement.

Also another important thing to realize is that, well at least for me,
as I get older and a lot of my childhood memories are fading or so it
seems, I want to creat new memories. I see the importance of experiencing life
in a way that is memorable, instead of always seeking something else.

So it’s good that through this way of seeking goals by just enjoying them,
I can kind of do that because I’ll be more focused on making the things
enjoyable and so I’ll be more focused on the experiences. Way more than if
I could somehow get a high paying job that was meh.

So an even higher level of thinking that I’ve afforded myself here is that
I can see that this is my expereince of life that I am taking control
of by actively seeking to experience my activity, instead of just finding the
fastest way to the goal. The goals are really not that important. Final
Fantasy, is not about the goal, it is about the journey, and making it as
exciting as possible, so that you hope it never ends.

Hanzi Mega-Pictorials

This idea is inspired by the hanzi Biang which isapparently the most complex hanzi, or at least the one with the most strokes.

I realized hat allthough it s a big character, its’s components are all pretty simple and common, which make it a sinch to learn.

How, here is the thing. It’s probabbly as easy to learn and/or forget, as any other hanzi, even a relally small one, at least initially. It’s almost like it’s uniqueness and interconnectedness makes it easier to learn or something, iunno.

So my idea, is to create a bunch of mega hanzi which represent some larger idea. If I learn one hanzi composed on may 10 smaller hanzi that I have seen but haven’t memorized, I would only have to draw this one hanzi to learn all of the hanzi within it, as long as I could put them together in a way that should how they connect to each other. This would be better than trying to learn them in isolation, or even in sentences. I would be creating diagrams of the hanzi meanings and commiting those to memory.

Also, doing it thisway would allow me to be creative and expressive as I would be able to choose which hanzi to put in each diagram and it could be based on things other than just similarity or something. Although I could do it this way. One main radical in the middle and the radicals that add meaning spread around it based on some other ideas related to their meanings.

So creating a mega picture thing in this way is awesome on many levels:

1. It means you aren’t writing each hanzi, you right the radical in the center and then only the components around it so you don’t have to remember as much information. You create the diagram and then later you decode it if you need the info.

2. The context from having so many radicals and the positions you can play with allows you to add meaning to them and this makes it easier to remember the meanings just from seeing the diagram, which is easy enough to remember and reproduce because …

3. You have less diagrams to remember than if you tried to remember Hanzi at random. The Hesig method helps I guess in that you learn them more in order, but the method really increases how much information you need to process by requiring the creation of stories for each character. With this method you turn 8-10 characters (or maybe more), into one mega picture and the context of the radicals within means you have less trouble recalling. All in all, you have far less information to store, that information is associative, and by learning only one or two diagrams per day, each diagram will remain more familiar to you.

Instead of learning 3000 Hanzi, if you create diagrams with ten characters each, you only need to learn 300 diagrams.

Language Learning: Muscle Memory and Passive Auditory Imprinting

“Passive Auditory Imprinting” Is really just a name I’m giving for the idea Khatsumoto from ajatt.com gives the idea of learning things through “osmosis” or passive listening. Where for example, if you hear the same phrase over and over, even if you don’t actively pay attention to it, you will become familiar with that phrase. Another example is learning a song or the words to a commercial even if you aren’t trying to.

I call it passive Auditory imprinting, and I stress “imprinting” because to me that feels like the best way to describe what is happening, at least for the moment and because this idea of imprinting seems to have other ways of occurring that I want to discuss.

First though, the reason why I find this idea important. It is because I find learning things actively to require a lot of resources and therefore not efficient. I mean, the worst example of this is creating mnemonics, where you focus completely on this task for the period of time that you are creating them AND all the reviews of the mnemonics you create.

Why is this not efficient?

For some people I’m sure it is efficient. For me though, I find myself constantly thinking, “damn I have to make up stories and review and actively recall meanings and stories of words. I have to remember a lot of information actively. I have to spend this time doing this, when I could be thinking about so many other interesting things. That is what makes it a burden.

Working out isn’t a burden for me. Doing chores not really, a physical part time job not really, but sitting down to review information that I already know so I don’t forget it, running over the same pathways, consciously,almost as if I never even made them before. That sucks.

A bit better is learning by trying to make connections. It’s still very active but it can rely on context more than creativity.

I feel like remembering things is important. I really got thinking about these ideas because of this fact, being able to remember a lot of facts is important for success in most fields and at least for the moment, it is not practical to try to get around it, in the school system at least.

Language learning as well is another huge example of where memorizing facts can become the “make or break” point. Learning Chinese requires being able to read and write 3000+ unique symbols.

This brings me to my next idea. Because learning Hanzi through mnemonics and review of those mnemonics becomes mind numbing very fast for me, because in general, memorizing can have this same effect, I need a way to be able to do memorization without it being a burden. Without having to sacrifice my cognitive resources.

Now here is my solution, which is pretty much going against the new way of doing things. I want to learn Hanzi by rote. As I write them out 10 or so times each, I will not have to think about them nearly as much. I can think about anything, let my mind wander in and out of focus. As long as the strokes are right and as long as I somehow fit the meaning to them. Either by only learning sentences which would have built in context for far more Hanzi at once. Or even paragraphs of text, just writing the whole paragraph out, knowing what it’s about, until I’ve memorized it and can write it on command. Or just write the hanzi while saying the name each time. Simple things like that.

I’ll still learn them. Why because of another type of imprinting. Muscle memory imprinting. My muscles(and parts of my central nervous system) will learn the Hanzi. I will be able to access those parts either when I write, or by imagining writing the words, and eventually just because I’ll have used them enough.

Now here is an interesting question. Is writing in big letters, the same as hearing a song played at a louder volume, in terms of increasing your ability to remember it. Or does a song only need to be loud enough to be clear, and writing something you see, the same as seeing the symbols clearly.

So this brings me to a whole philosophy about learning. Should we be trying to force our learning(of boring material) into consciousness awareness? Or is it better left to other parts of the central nervous system to store, and then we process and internalize further as needed?

I’ll end this by saying it sees some thing we are passionate about “knowing and understanding require a foundation of memorizing things we feel are not interesting. This method is a way to memorize those less interesting things in a way that uses more kinesthetic resources instead of the deeper conscious cognitive processes we want to use for the fun stuff.

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