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Research Finds That Bilingual People Are Smarter, More Creative And Empathetic

Research Finds That Bilingual People Are Smarter, More Creative And Empathetic

Language is the soul of a culture. Think about the old anecdote about how the Inuit people have multiple words for “snow”. Or think about how the ability to understand a language is a crucial prerequisite for historians, and those who study international affairs. Those people focus on language because they know that without the language, they cannot truly understand the cultures they study.

But those who learn more than one language are not just more knowledgeable about the world around them. Bilingual speakers are better thinkers, more creative, and are better at understanding people. It is a valuable gift that every person, no matter what stage they are at in their lives, should attempt to master for themselves.

They Are Smarter Than Average

It may seem obvious that a person who speaks two languages is smarter than a person who speaks one. But the results can be surprising. A medical study showed that bilingual children were better at solving puzzles compared to monolingual children. Also, in a study of elderly people conducted by the University of California, bilingual individuals proved to be more resistant to the negative impacts of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

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The brain is a muscle, and it is theorized that the effort of learning a language strengthens it, in a manner similar to how swimming and running can improve a person’s lungs and heart. As the New York Times declared in their report on these studies, being bilingual “can have a profound effect on your brain, improving cognitive skills not related to language and even shielding against dementia in old age.”

They Have Unique Ways Of Looking At The World

Bilingualism does not just improve a person’s ability to solve puzzles. It also improves their creativity and grants them new ways of seeing the world that they might have never thought about before.

As someone who speaks English and Japanese, let us use one of the simplest words in a language – “I.” The Japanese language possesses over 100 variations of the word “I,” though about only half a dozen are used today.

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So, what is the difference between all of these variations? Some of these variations are only used by men. Some of them are used only by women, and some are used by both genders. Some are used by only young children, or by those speaking to their superiors within a particular hierarchy.

But the key thing is that each “I” is only used by a certain social group, and to use one “I” or another shows where you belong in the social hierarchy. In Japanese society, which can often be hierarchical, language helps to reinforce this hierarchy.

It is one thing to read a book which talks about the Japanese social hierarchy and how it is part of everyday life. It is another thing to experience it for yourself. Understanding how pervasive that hierarchy can be cannot be fully grasped without understanding the language.

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They Are More Creative

As shown above, bilingualism can help your brain to think in different ways, using different perspectives. These ways of thinking can help liberate one’s creativity. As Psychology Today observes, bilingualism is a great way to access “new experience, new thought, new vision, and new solutions.” Moreover, a medical study conducted in 2012 showed that bilingual children were both better problem solvers and creative thinkers.

Bilingualism is a wonderful gift. It improves a speaker’s mind, both when they are young and old. It encourages them to see the world in a different light, and understand cultures in a way which just reading a book could never accomplish. There are also practical benefits of knowing two languages from a business and career perspective.

If you are not bilingual, it is never too late to learn. A person does not need to be completely fluent to earn the benefits of bilingualism, just as a person does not need to be an Olympic-class athlete to gain the physical benefits of a good diet and exercise.

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Featured photo credit: Joseph McKinley via flickr.com

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Last Updated on August 16, 2018

10 Ways To Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone And Enjoy Taking Risks

10 Ways To Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone And Enjoy Taking Risks

The ability to take risks by stepping outside your comfort zone is the primary way by which we grow. But we are often afraid to take that first step.

In truth, comfort zones are not really about comfort, they are about fear. Break the chains of fear to get outside. Once you do, you will learn to enjoy the process of taking risks and growing in the process.

Here are 10 ways to help you step out of your comfort zone and get closer to success:

1. Become aware of what’s outside of your comfort zone

What are the things that you believe are worth doing but are afraid of doing yourself because of the potential for disappointment or failure?

Draw a circle and write those things down outside the circle. This process will not only allow you to clearly identify your discomforts, but your comforts. Write identified comforts inside the circle.

2. Become clear about what you are aiming to overcome

Take the list of discomforts and go deeper. Remember, the primary emotion you are trying to overcome is fear.

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How does this fear apply uniquely to each situation? Be very specific.

Are you afraid of walking up to people and introducing yourself in social situations? Why? Is it because you are insecure about the sound of your voice? Are you insecure about your looks?

Or, are you afraid of being ignored?

3. Get comfortable with discomfort

One way to get outside of your comfort zone is to literally expand it. Make it a goal to avoid running away from discomfort.

Let’s stay with the theme of meeting people in social settings. If you start feeling a little panicked when talking to someone you’ve just met, try to stay with it a little longer than you normally would before retreating to comfort. If you stay long enough and practice often enough, it will start to become less uncomfortable.

4. See failure as a teacher

Many of us are so afraid of failure that we would rather do nothing than take a shot at our dreams.

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Begin to treat failure as a teacher. What did you learn from the experience? How can you take that lesson to your next adventure to increase your chance of success?

Many highly successful people failed plenty of times before they succeeded. Here’re some examples:

10 Famous Failures to Success Stories That Will Inspire You to Carry On

5. Take baby steps

Don’t try to jump outside your comfort zone, you will likely become overwhelmed and jump right back in.

Take small steps toward the fear you are trying to overcome. If you want to do public speaking, start by taking every opportunity to speak to small groups of people. You can even practice with family and friends.

Take a look at this article on how you can start taking baby steps:

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The Number One Secret to Life Success: Baby Steps

6. Hang out with risk takers

There is no substitute for this step. If you want to become better at something, you must start hanging out with the people who are doing what you want to do and start emulating them. (Here’re 8 Reasons Why Risk Takers Are More Likely To Be Successful).

Almost inevitably, their influence will start have an effect on your behavior.

7. Be honest with yourself when you are trying to make excuses

Don’t say “Oh, I just don’t have the time for this right now.” Instead, be honest and say “I am afraid to do this.”

Don’t make excuses, just be honest. You will be in a better place to confront what is truly bothering you and increase your chance of moving forward.

8. Identify how stepping out will benefit you

What will the ability to engage in public speaking do for your personal and professional growth? Keep these potential benefits in mind as motivations to push through fear.

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9. Don’t take yourself too seriously

Learn to laugh at yourself when you make mistakes. Risk taking will inevitably involve failure and setbacks that will sometimes make you look foolish to others. Be happy to roll with the punches when others poke fun.

If you aren’t convinced yet, check out these 6 Reasons Not to Take Life So Seriously.

10. Focus on the fun

Enjoy the process of stepping outside your safe boundaries. Enjoy the fun of discovering things about yourself that you may not have been aware of previously.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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