We’re all coming from different part of the world along with different cultures.
I am a French guy going out with a Japanese girl, a Nepalese colleague, with loads of friends who are American, Chinese, Korean, Australian, etc.
We’ve all grown in very different setups and have developed different mindsets and habits. This is caused not only by the way our parents brought us up, but also by the environment as a whole.
Our country or even our prefecture’s cultures vary, sometimes drastically, and that’s also why we, as people, evolve in extremely different ways.
Individual or Society
One of the aspects which can be drastically disturbing is the difference between individualistic and collectivistic cultures.
This is also the most starking difference between Western and “Asian” cultures.
As a French person, I’ve been brought up in a very individualistic culture. What I should do first is what is good for myself. If it positively impacts others, all the better. If not, that’s your problem. Not mine.
That’s obviously a bit stereotyped here, but that’s more or less it.
On the contrary, a Japanese person will focus on making sure the society as a whole is evolving the way it should. If you need to put your desires on hold, then you just do it. No question asked.
Now, those are general “definitions ”and evidently, there will also be some people in France who will put the society about all and some in Japan who will put themselves as the highest priority.
Both types have their advantages and drawbacks but I believe one is more prone to overall happiness.
Happiness is yours not the society’s
I guess you already see which one I’m rooting for, heh?
Well, I’m not really rooting for it, but I do believe the individualistic culture is more prone to having happy people.
Living for the society creates a whole lot of pressure on people. You are expected to do your best for it but, at the same time, you don’t have much control over it.
This also explains the extremely high suicide rates in countries like South Korea and Japan since you have to follow strict rules which may be in stark contrast with your true personality.
Same explanation goes with the hikikomori who distance themselves from a society they don’t recognize themselves in.
On the contrary, individualistic cultures, as its name implies, put an emphasis on the individual.
“You do you.”
If you’re given the opportunity to work on yourself, then you can find your life goals and what makes you come alive. This is where happiness lies.
But trying to get your happiness despite the rest of the society won’t really get you anywhere.
Find the right middle
While it may sound like I approve much more of the individualistic mindset of the Western culture, collectivism has its advantages. After all, I did choose to come live in Japan off my own will.
For one, if you know the rules, then daily life becomes a habit. You can just follow the rules and you’ll be “good to go”.
But will you truly be happy?
No. You won’t if you don’t take the time to work on yourself.
But at the same time, doing everything just for oneself will make you some kind of pariah. You’ll be unable to create stable connections and feel on the side of a world which “doesn’t understand you”.
It is crucial to look within and discover who you truly are and what you were truly born to do. But don’t ever forget that you weren’t born alone on a deserted island.
We need others and others need us. So no matter where you were born or grew up, make sure your culture is not all your personality. You shouldn’t just do you, you should be you.