Tag Archives: United States

Research on Well-being and Aging: Comparison between U.S. and Japan


We have only begun to look at the evidence, but it appears that different aspects of well-being matter for health in different ways depending on the cultural context where people reside

Source: blogs.plos.org

 

Well-being in the West is formulated more in terms of the individual and how he or she may feel about how they’re doing in life.

 

In the East, well-being is much more about the self embedded within social relationships; for example, how well you’re doing in meeting your obligations to others.

 

In the U.S., self-report tools ask people to report on their levels of positive and negative affect. Usually the two types of affect tend to be inversely correlated. Emotions are strongly related to people’s health in the U.S.: those with more positive and less negative affect report better health. This is true even when we look at more objective health criteria, like stress hormones, or other biological risk factors.

 

That is not true in Japan. Both affects tend to be more moderately reported. That is, there is no cultural prescription for feeling mostly positive emotion and not feeling much negative. In Japan there’s nothing wrong with feeling negative emotion; it’s not viewed as something amiss that possibly needs to be fixed in therapy

 

In the West, the core objective is to get people out of the experience of negative emotion – whether it’s anxiety or depression. The way that well-being tries to do that is to get patients to focus on their experiences of well-being by keeping daily diaries of positive experience.

 

In Japan therapy is designed to treat distressed or maladjusted people, but the focus is not on fixing emotions. In fact, they are viewed as beyond the person’s control. Emotions come and go and people do not control them. They may be positive or negative, and you can observe them, but it’s not worth your time to try to fix them. What you can fix is what you do. So the therapy tries to get people to shift into thinking not so much about how they feel, but what they are doing.

See on Scoop.itGreat Life Coaching

Where are you really from ? An Expat Perspective On Racism


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I found the question in this article very interesting:   Is It Racist to Ask People Where They’re From?
As an expat, I am asked all the time where are you really from ?  and I usually have different answers for different audiences. However to many expats, they don’t feel comfortable with this question especially if they have been living in a foreign country for quite a long time and interpret the question as obviously you are not from there, you are different.
After 25 years of expatriation, I still have some mixed feelings about this question but sometimes it is good to feel different and not from “here”.  Being a French in France is actually harder for me than living abroad, I don’t know anything about popular TV shows or the secret lives of French politicians and I have often a very different view on sensitive questions as I am living on the “other side”.
When I lived in Japan in the 90s I obviously did not look Japanese and I have been asked frequently where I was from, but at that time, being French and saying I was from Paris, were magic words and I was very well treated both at work and with perfect strangers in the streets. I was kind of “exotic” there. However Caucasians were better treated than non-Japanese Asians, especially Chinese, Koreans or Filipinos.
In the US, when I lived in New York City and 8 months pregnant, strangers were giving me a “god bless you” very often, then we had the 9/11 dramatic events and my son was born 12 days later. However I got unpleasant remarks when I said I was French because at that time the French president and the government refused to send troops to Baghdad as if I had anything to do with this decision.
Altogether I had a very positive experience in NYC. I also lived in Atlanta and we were very well-integrated partly because of my son being at the Atlanta International School but generally speaking, Atlanta is a very international city. However I was shocked to see that nothing really changed since Martin Luther King Jr, I saw a lot of segregation between African-Americans and White Americans. Each community including Latin American people had their own neighborhood with very strict boundaries. I then realized that America was far from being a melting pot !
Then we spent one year in New Jersey and it was painful to have in the neighborhood listing “the French” instead of our family name.
Now we live in Russia, I don’t have any specific problems with racism, the “where are you from? ” is still there since my Russian is pretty basic but unlike the stereotypes, I find Russians very courteous with men giving their seats to women in the Metro for example. But here again even for wealthy expatriates,  it is better to be a Caucasian than having a dark skin color.

How do you feel about being asked : where are you really from ?

Related Article:  Encountering racism abroad — or why I sometimes wish I was white

The “How Are You?” Culture Clash: Americans v.s. Russians


How Are You ?

The answer Americans give, of course is, “Fine.”

But when Russians hear this they think one of two things: (1) you’ve been granted a heavenly reprieve from the wearisome grind that all but defines the human condition and as a result are experiencing a rare and sublime moment of fineness or (2) you are lying”.

True for French people too, they don’t always understand that “how are you?” is not a question, just another way to say “hi” in the United States

Read more on : The ‘How Are You?’ Culture ClashBy ALINA SIMONEJAN. 19, 2014

 

American Culture: “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays ?


santa

A recent Pew survey, shows that while nine in 10 Americans take part in the holiday that theologically commemorates the birth of Jesus, only about half actually see it as a religious celebration.

Christmasurvey

Pew found that religious and non-religious Americans largely celebrate the holiday the same. Though those who believe in Christmas as a religious holiday and those believe in the virgin birth are much more likely to go to church services for Christmas, both cultural and religious observers were just as likely to gather with family, exchange gifts and take part in the tradition of Santa Claus visiting their homes at night.

In addition, nearly 50 % of Americans say stores and businesses should greet customers with “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings” instead of “Merry Christmas” out of respect for people of different faiths, according to a poll released in December 2013.

How about in Your Culture,

How do you greet people for the holiday season ?

Is Humility A Universal Leadership Value Across Cultures ?


isaac-newton-new (1)

Humility in leadership can be defined as the ability to understand yourself and bring the best from other people. You must first know your talents and limitations, then recognize that you have to rely on others and empower them to discover their own strengths and manage their weak points to focus on achieving a common goal.

Global leaders and managers working in multicultural teams must manage conflicts, poor communication and lack of teamwork as a result of misunderstandings and wrong assumptions from people driven by different internal core values and beliefs.

What we know, from the work of Professor Geert Hofstede on dimensions of national culture is that some countries have high power distance such as Russia that scores 93 on a scale of 1-100 and others have a low power distance dimension like United States that scores 40.

What it means, is that in Russia the power is distributed unequally and highly centralized with 80% of the financial potential concentrated in Moscow. It also means that in high distance countries people believe that power and authority are facts of life and inequality is institutionalized. Leaders are therefore expected to have a top-down approach to solve conflicts and take important decisions. Subordinates will simply comply with their leader.

For doing business In Russia, you must understand that hierarchy and status are important and that Russians respect age, rank and position as well as technological expertise. Russians see negotiations as win-lose and compromise as weakness.

On the other hand, in lower power distance countries such as the United States, there is a preference for consultation and collaborative leadership. Subordinates are encouraged to be independent  and contribute to problem solving. In the United States. business communication is informal and based on a win-win negotiation style.

If you are coming from the U.S. or another low power distance country when you have to deal with high power distance countries like Russia, you need to take your time  to understand who has the power of making decisions, otherwise nothing is going to happen especially when dealing with the administration and its very complex bureaucracy. For Americans, “time is money” but trying to force Russians to take quick decisions will only delay the processes and decrease trust.

So in a sense, humility in business negotiation is highly valued by Russians in general as humble business leaders have patience, try to understand first  and at the same time are strong enough to deal with conflicts without showing any sign of arrogance or superiority.

Most of the studies on humility as a value in leadership have been conducted in the United States and therefore it is difficult to separate the empirical and anecdotal from the real science-based evidences.

Leadership is a question of character (integrity, confidence, curiosity), not temperament (biology and genetics), therefore it is possible for global leaders and expatriated managers to learn cultural differences and the benefits of humility, holding judgment and avoiding placing one culture above another.

The role of effective intercultural leaders is to shape the corporate and local cultures of their organization to be understood and embraced by individuals from different race, ethnicity, religion and gender with a minimum of misunderstandings. 

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The Truth About Green Card and American Citizenship


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The New York Times Just published this article : Making Choice to Halt at Door of Citizenship

I think the article is misleading giving the wrong message that green card holders are taking all the “good things” America has to offer: jobs, education, big houses, quality of life or else but they don’t want to become American citizen for ideology, trivial reasons or because they can’t speak proper English. Really ?

I don’t need a passport for feeling “home”, I am a global citizen, and “home” is where I live with my family but I have spent enough time in the US to understand that after reading this article most Americans would be enraged to read that some legal aliens are saying they do not feel proud of becoming US citizen! A passport makes you free to live in a country as long as you want and to vote, that is the difference with a green card or a temporary work permit.

I have been a serial expat for more than 20 years, moving every 3 years across three continents. I have lived 7 years in the US but not in a row so I am not allowed to apply for citizenship yet as I am living abroad. I am a European and French citizen so I can apply for US citizenship and keep my current passport. As US permanent residents (other name for green card holders)  we pay ALL our taxes on every dollars we earn anywhere like US citizens even if we live abroad. So we don’t take anything from our American friends by being green card holders, quite the opposite.

In order to keep my green card while I am living abroad, I will have to renew my re-entry permit EVERY YEAR I live outside the US more than 180 days. That means spending enough time in the US somewhere, for one month or two every summer vacations in order to make tons of paperwork until I spend again more than 6 months in America. Even doing this does not even guarantee I can keep my green card before its expiration date. Fair enough some people might think but the U.S. Tax Department might not agree with their immigration colleagues.

We want to keep the green card because our son has dual citizenship as he was born in the US. He is bilingual English/French but only 12. He has always attended American or English schools and in Grade 6 it is too late to switch him to the French system so there is a good probability that I will choose to live in the US for the last 3 years of High School and College years unless we stay abroad too long then we will lose our green cards and we will have paid a fortune in US taxes without getting anything in return not even the freedom to one day call America “home”.

If You have been a serial expat and green card holder did you make the choice to give it up or tried everything to keep it ?

American Culture: What is Black Friday ?


Main Aisle, Macy's 1st Floor, Black Friday

Main Aisle, Macy’s 1st Floor, Black Friday (Photo credit: LarimdaME)

 

When I first moved to New York City from Japan, I never heard about “Black Friday”. I remember the Macy’s Parade in the streets of NYC for Thanksgiving but did not notice this event the first year.

 

Black Friday is the name given to the day following Thanksgiving Day in the United States, traditionally the beginning of the Christmas shopping season.

 

On this day, most major retailers open extremely early, often at 4 am, or earlier, and offer promotional sales to kick off the holiday shopping season, similar to Boxing Day sales in many Commonwealth Nations.

 

Black Friday is not an official holiday, but many non-retail employers also observe this day as a holiday along with Thanksgiving, giving their employees the day off, thereby increasing the number of potential shoppers. It has routinely been the busiest shopping day of the year .

 

NYC is not America as you probably know, so I really did not shop that day during the 3 years I spent there. It is only when I was living in Atlanta and New Jersey that I saw people being crazy about Black Friday coupons and massive discounts. In the States you have identical shopping malls across all the country with stores like Macys. Bed Bath and Beyond or TjMaxx to name a few. Compared to Europe, clothes for example are half the price in regular time and when you have Sales, not only on Black Friday, you can buy a nice branded pair of jeans for $10 and a suit for less than $50. As a result I have bought many things I did not really used just because it was “cheap”.

 

Conclusion: People get totally irrational about buying when there is massive sales and I think buy things they don’t need.

 

What do you think ? 

 

 

 

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