Last Updated on 2 years ago by Nicky Johnson
Webster defines happiness as “a state of well-being and contentment.” This is pretty generic, but all of us can relate in some way. We know when we feel happy. And we know those things that make us so – love, peace, helping others, meeting a goal, getting the perfect job, for example.
So, how does learning a new language relate to happiness? Here are seven ways.
We all set goals of various types. These may relate to educational accomplishments, to careers, to financial health, to physical fitness, weight loss, and such. And when we achieve those goals, we have a sense of accomplishment that brings happiness.
The same sense of accomplishment is gained when someone sets a goal to master a foreign language, works to achieve that goal, and then accomplishes it. One of the key factors in this happiness is that the goal and the method you choose to achieve it is one you choose yourself, rather than one that someone else has chosen for you.
And the methods you choose should also be your own. There are many ways to pursue mastery of a foreign language. When you control those ways, the achievement of that goal is even sweeter.
Less Stress and Anxiety is Research-Based
People who have less stress and anxiety are happier. This is a fact. So, how does being bilingual contribute to these conditions? Interestingly, there is a research study that may explain some of this. Specifically, the researchers were interested in knowing how Asian immigrant children did in school while they continued to be bilingual.
The study concluded that their behavior and emotional well-being was so excellent because they exhibited low stress and anxiety levels. The question becomes, can this transfer to adults who also are bilingual? Early initial research is underway, but it appears that those who are bilingual do experience these emotionally-healthy characteristics.
Greater Self Confidence
Mastering a second language contributes to self-confidence in one’s ability to achieve something that is challenging, yet realistic.
There is an old saying that “success begets success.” When we experience success, not only do we feel good about ourselves but we also are happy to take on more challenges and ultimately achieve more success. This can lead to overall, general, emotional well-being over longer periods of time.
Activation of the Brain’s Pleasure Center
There is a part of the brain known as the “pleasure center” – the ventral striatum. It’s the feeling of “reward,” often associated with a great experience, including eating chocolate, gambling, or even sex. Biological studies have shown that this small part of the brain is also activated when we learn new words. It acts much like the “feel good” hormones known as endorphins that are activated through exercise.
Ability to Multi-Task is Increased
What does multi-tasking have to do with happiness? Consider this. Studies have shown that those who master a second language are better at multi-tasking than monolingual people. If you are better able to multi-task, you get more done in a faster period of time.
Whether that is at work or at home, getting things done faster means more time for the “fun” activities, even if those include binging your favorite TV series or spending time at the mall.
Learning another language makes us much more aware of cultural differences between us and those whose language we learn. And yet, the more we learn about another culture, the more we realize that people everywhere have the same aspirations as we do.
We become far more tolerant of those who are “different” in the smaller ways. Intolerant people seem always to be angry, and that anger makes them unhappy. Tolerant people are accepting and flexible, and in return, they get acceptance, love, and flexibility from others. It’s a happy place to be.
If you should decide to not just learn a foreign language but to truly master it, you become fully bilingual. When you do, new opportunities open their doors to you – exciting opportunities. For example, you might find a translation company in USA that needs someone with your new skills. The prospect of starting a new career is not just exciting – it brings joy!
Are You Ready?
What are you waiting for? In addition to the “happiness factor” of learning another language, there are also lots of cognitive benefits – better memory, more connections and growth of the brain, decreasing the onset of dementia, and more. Everything points to doing this for yourself.