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Mandarin Buzzword-“正能量(zhèngnéngliàng)”

Apr. 4, 2015

Are you the kind of person who is desperately overcommitted and suffering from exhaustion? Are you still upset about your most recent failure? Are you living with terrible pressure? If so, you’re the victim of negative emotions. To resolve these problems, you need some “正能量(zhèngnéngliàng),” which can save you from feeling constantly disappointed or drained and can enable you to live a more hopeful and vibrant life. So, what is “正能量(zhèngnéngliàng)?”

“正能量(zhèngnéngliàng),” or positive energy, is a physical term originating from the theory of Quantum Electrodynamics proposed by the British physicist Paul Dirac. Nowadays, the term is widely used in psychology and first became widely known thanks to Rip It Up written by the British psychologist Richard Wiseman. The book’s title is translated as “正能量(zhèngnéngliàng)” in Mandarin, which refers to a kind of healthy, optimistic and positive emotion and motivation. Anyone who is ambitious and positive, or anything that provides people with encouragement and hope can be labelled as “正能量(zhèngnéngliàng).”

The reason why the concept of “正能量(zhèngnéngliàng)” is so popular these days is that people are now living under extremely heavy pressure. Fast-paced lives drive people to rush around, which consequently make them suffer from chronic exhaustion. The overwhelming pressure coming from employment, house purchasing and marriage brings people many worries. They may get angry, disappointed or scared. What’s more, the development of social networks such as “微博(wēibó),” one of China’s most popular microblogs, spreads people’s complaints and dissatisfaction like wildfire. This, in turn, generates a kind of negative vibe that expands throughout the whole of society.

“正能量(zhèngnéngliàng)” is used as a noun, and the term always collocates with “传递(chuándì),” “充满(chōngmǎn),” etc. We usually say someone “充满正能量(chōngmǎn zhèngnéngliàng)” or “满满的都是正能量(mǎnmǎnde dōushì zhèngnéngliàng),” meaning that someone is full of positive energy. For example, if a person has an optimistic and confident outlook on his or her life and remains peaceful and happy in the face of hardship, we say that[Learn More2] he or she “充满正能量(chōngmǎn zhèngnéngliàng).” Also, if there is something in your life that makes you keep hoping for the best and confident or feeling that life is meaningful and beautiful, you can also say that you“满满的都是正能量(mǎnmǎnde dōushì zhèngnéngliàng).”


Tā shì yígè chōngmǎn zhèngnéngliàng de rén!
他  是  一个 充满          正能量                的  人!
He is a person who is full of positive energy!

Jīntiān lǎobǎn biǎoyáng wǒ le,   xiànzài wǒ quánshēn dōushì zhèngnéngliàng!
今天    老板      表扬        我 了, 现在     我  全身          都是    正能量!
Today my boss praised me, so now I am full of positive energy!

Xiànzài hěnduō míngxīng xǐhuan cānjiā císhàn huódòng, zhè kéyǐ gěi quánshèhuì chuándì zhèngnéngliàng.
现在     很多       明星        喜欢     参加   慈善     活动,     这   可以 给  全社会         传递       正能量。
Now many superstars enjoy taking part in charitable activities, which spreads positive feelings throughout the whole of society.

“负能量(fùnéngliàng)” is a term that means the opposite of “正能量(zhèngnéngliàng).” It essentially means negative energy, which brings with it negative emotions such as desperation, complaint, grief, and so on.


Nǐ búyào lǎoshì bàoyuàn shēnghuó le,   nǐ zhèshì zài chuándì fùnéngliàng!
你 不要   老是    抱怨         生活        了,你 这 是    在 传递       负能量!
Don’t keep on complaining about life. You are spreading negative energy to others!


1. What kind of person is full of “正能量(zhèngnéngliàng)?”

A. A person who is optimistic about life.

B. A person who is good at physics.

C. A person who knows a lot about psychology.

2. If you say something delivers “正能量(zhèngnéngliàng),” what do you mean?

A. That it makes people complain about life.

B. That it drives people to strive for their dreams.

C. That it makes people feel stressed.

3. Which of the following things could bring people“负能量(fùnéngliàng)?”

A. Pressure.

B. Praise.

C. A promotion.

See Answers


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