We Have Much to Learn From People Around the World

For as far back as I can remember, I’ve been intrigued by cultural differences. Everything from what people believe to how we behave in public is influenced by our culture.

I volunteer regularly with refugees from Burma, and they encourage us to just walk in the house, don’t knock, roam around the house as we need–even help ourselves to stuff in the kitchen. For an American, this is tough. They jokingly commented on our need for knocking at the front door. I love the behavior though, that everyone is welcome, even though that’s not the standard here in the U.S. and something many of us would be frightened of… We’d whisper “Did they just WALK in!!???”

As you likely know, I’m just over six months pregnant now. We will be expecting our little arrival in early October. The pressures of what to do and not do has been a pervasive thought over these last several months. Even parenting styles, breastfeeding and having a “natural” birth have all been conversations I’d never thought I’d have, but here I am. Because I know we can easily slide down the slippery slope of consuming thoughts and buy into group-think on topics like these, I haven’t read any pregnancy  books. I’ve been boycotting them in a way, wanting to trust my intuition and go with what I know feels right.

However, one book did catch my eye and I couldn’t help but speed through it. It’s called Bringing Up BeBe, written by Pamela Drucker. In this book, Drucker compares the differences between American parenting (mostly mother’s) and French parenting. What I read had me laughing out loud about our cultural nuances. All the while reading it, I kept thinking to myself…

“I’m not crazy, I’m just American!”

It made me realize just how much of what we do, say, think, and believe is impacted by our cultural surroundings. And, it’s put me on a quest to understand the cultures of other countries EVEN MORE. Imagine if we all had a clear understanding of all the differences from so many countries from around the world. I’d like to think that people would feel a whole lot less crazy if they realized that much of what they are thinking and believing has been influenced by their environment. Simply having this awareness allows us the freedom to choose different ways of believing and behaving.

So, now I know more about French parenting, but I’d love to know even more about countries from all over the world. In my grandest vision, I see a “SuperCountry” coming together, much like today’s pop SuperGroups with great artist collaborating, where we take the best of many things and bring them together.

Here are some of my quick takeaways about French parenting (just so you know, but I do recommend reading the book – pregnant or not!):

  • French kids eat four-course meals for dinner and can sit at a restaurant for that long with no problems
  • French kids don’t snack (their mom’s purses aren’t filled with Cheerios and Cheetos to tie them over)
  • Most babies in France “do their nights” by six weeks old – meaning they are sleeping a solid 8 hours every night
  • Breastfeeding isn’t forced and you aren’t looked down upon if you don’t do it
  • Most moms still keep their careers and don’t feel guilty about it, putting your kid in daycare isn’t a bad thing, it’s  part of life
  • The families life doesn’t revolve around the child, the child gets integrated into the family
  • They don’t call a birth without an epidural natural, they call it “without drugs” (Hence, no pressure to do it “without drugs”)
  • They have, what the author called, the “pause” – where parents don’t respond to their children right away, giving them time to solve problems on their own
  • Children are strongly encouraged to play on their own and explore, so they can generate more self-awareness

There are many more, but these are just the things I can think of now that really stood out. This list may not even seem that different until you really look at the comparisons of what parenting has become here in the U.S. Neither is right or wrong or good or bad, it’s just different. It’s in that difference that we get to choose what works best for us, if we know there is another way, we can explore that for ourselves.

Just like when I was in Thailand this year, I learned there that:

  • People eat together and share food from the same bowls
  • Spiritual and religious practice is a dominant part of the culture
  • Shoes are not allowed to be worn in any home or sacred building
  • You bow to greet people, with your hands in a prayer position

Those are just a few of the things I learned about Thai culture. There were many, many more!

Tell me, what have you learned in your travels and interactions with people from other cultures?

Where Do You Rank on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs?

Maslow's Hierarchy of NeedsIn all my years of education in the field of psychology, I always resonated with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. It just made sense to me. Does it to you as well?

Take a look at the hierarchy if you haven’t seen it for awhile. Check out each layer and ask yourself where you are in your life currently?

The bottom two needs are what we all know we need to survive and feel safe. These needs are essential to our existence.

But, look what comes next. Right after these very basic needs of survival we have the need for love and belonging.

To me, this emphasizes the importance that human beings were not created to live alone, disassociate from others, and be able to handle all of life’s happenings without the support from people around them. Furthermore, it states “belonging” – to affiliate with others. This to me is community. This is about connection.

With Maslow’s Hierarchy, he intended for people to move up the scale of needs. As needs were met at each level the person could then go on to the next level and actualize that part of themselves.

I think love and belonging is often overlooked as we logically know we need good self-esteem and we all desire self-fulfillment at the highest level – so we try to jump there as quickly as possible. Skipping over the critical importance of having a tribe, feeling connected to those around us, and feeling that we belong.

But, without feeling a deep connection and sense of belonging with other human beings– can we really make it to self-actualization?

 

 

 

What the People of the World Really Want

Bangkok, Thailand, World Peace, Peace, What people wantIt was day one of our Thailand trip. We’d walked several miles scouring through the streets of Bangkok, immersed in pungent smells of the street vendors and pollution, languages from around the world and temples.

We finally began to slow our pace down and as we were heading back to the ferry on the river, we stopped in Chinatown for a fried banana snack. As I ordered from the street vendor, I took a step back waiting for her to finish cooking.

Meanwhile a few other local women came up to the same vendor and ordered some treats as well. One stepped back and told me to order the fried banana as this woman’s was the best. I ensured her I had.

We got into a little conversation in broken English. Our conversation started with where she had traveled to in America, through parts of California and Las Vegas.

Then, she asked me about Obama.Obama? We are so far from home, but people want to talk about this.

“Obama good?” She asked.

I nodded and asked her, “Obama good?”

“Yes,” she said, smiling.

Then she said to me, “What all people want is peace. No war, just peace.”

My heart melted. Rob, my husband, looked at me and smiled. When we walked away he said, “That just totally made your day didn’t it?”

And it did.

For a woman who could barely speak English to be able to express that to me was just magical. I do believe her statement is true, it is what most people in the world want.

Do you agree?

 

But isn’t this Truly Our Reality?

I love the way movies can make a point, paint a picture and get you thinking about an issue in a different way. I recently watched Dr. Seuss’ Lorax. While I wasn’t particularly taken with the movie, I was moved by the message. Then the message got me thinking about some other recent powerful movies I had seen – The Hunger Games and Avatar.

As I thought about these movies, I saw them in a new light. And instead of seeing them just as a powerful message, with great cinematography, in a far away world that doesn’t much resemble ours, I asked, “How is this similar to where we are today?”

Then comparison, after comparison came to me. I realized, we are currently living in all three of these films. The writers aren’t talking about the future, they are talking about the present – right now.

Here’s what I’ve found…

Avatar

  • We’ve lost our connection to nature and are destroying it as through it regenerates overnight. We think all of the earth’s resources are solely here for our use, with little concern with the impact our choices make on other life.
  • We’ve put profit and short-term goals of wanting “more,” over what is best for all concerned and future generations.
  • Everything in life is valuable, nothing is lost without a cost, yet we treat human life as though it is disposable. Dismissing the homeless, sending people off to war to kill one another, and practically disregarding the rapid depletion of certain animal species on the planet.
  • All of life is interconnected. We all need and depend on each other to keep earth in harmony, from the plants, the animals, the oceans, to humans.

Hunger Games

  • Like the people in the capitol, we alter our bodies to make a statement or because we want to look different, fit in, or maybe even stand out—whether through tattoos, piercings, or surgeries. We spend money on fashion, clothing, and accessories just because, with little thought as to who they were made and at what cost.
  • We watch violent movies, deaths, and war on live television. Our media emphasizes the grotesque images, calling it “news” and we watch it over again, replayed at 6am, 12pm, 5pm, and again at 11.
  • Children are taught that fighting is part of survival, working together is not an option, similar to our individualistic culture in America.

The Lorax

  • We cut down trees and use the earth’s natural resources at an alarming rate, without considering how we will replenish what we use.
  • For wanting things to look and appear “perfect,” we lose touch with what’s really important.
  • We allow people to lead us without asking questions, pushing back, and seeking alternative solutions. Essentially we are all followers to some degree.
  • How much of what we consume is “plastic” or not real, in what we eat and put into our bodies?
  • What we are doing and using in our culture is not sustainable over a long period of time, it’s estimated that Americans use FOUR times their natural resources.

While I’m not saying people are wrong, I am saying that we have a responsibility to the people of this world and our planet—with all that it encompasses. These movies may seem like dramatization of reality, but in truth, aren’t they really showcasing what’s already happening here now?

I believe so.

What other parallels do you draw from these films? Do you believe what they are talking about is happening now?

Lessons and Gifts

It seems we go through times in our life and work where we are presented with challenges, opportunities, teachers, gifts and lessons about our path and direction.

These times give us a chance to see what’s working for us, what isn’t, learn the lesson and then break the patterns. This has been one of those times for me, so I wanted to pass along some of the lessons that have shown up for me this week.

1. Always stand up for yourself and what’s right for you. This week I finally said ‘enough is enough’ and took a stand for what was right for me. I stood up for myself, and also took a stand for my career and business. I’ve realized, being a compassionate human being, it’s sometimes a little too easy for others to step on you. This week, I was presented with mulitple ways and different people with whom I could practice this valuable lesson of taking a stand for what was right for me.

 2. Drive your life, don’t let anyone else take the wheel. This, by far, has been the biggest lesson. Waking up to the realization that being a people-pleaser doesn’t serve me, and putting everyone else’s needs and demands above and before my own will not only cause burnout and resentment, it directly takes me away from my goal and larger purpose of how I want to contribute to the world and bring value to others. Driving my life must become a priority, the same as driving your own life must also become a priority for you. We simply have to fight for what we want. It must come first. And, we must break any pattern or habit that directly takes us away from creating and fulfilling that desire in our own life.

 3. Your skills are not always your strengths. I’m skilled at many things. I’m super fast at tasks, I’m fairly above average when it comes to technology, but I’m admittedly not the best when it comes to accuracy and precision. My strength is in the sheer quantity of the work and volume I can produce, finding ways to strategize and see a bigger vision, and producing end results. I’ve realized that others have taken my skills and seen them as strengths I should use, yet these aren’t the strengths I’m passionate about utilizing. A skill doesn’t mean it’s a strength, and a strength doesn’t mean it’s a passion. This lesson was about remembering that just because you can do something, and just because you know how to do something, doesn’t mean you are actually good at doing it, nor is it what you are meant to be doing with your life.

My commitment to you is to stay focused on the ways I can serve the most people with the biggest impact possible. To let go of the small stuff, drive my own life, and focus on the activities that are both my strengths and my passions.

What lessons and gifts have you learned lately? What commitment can you make to ensure these lessons don’t continue to show up for you? How would utilizing these lessons allow you to serve more and make a greater impact?