Culture and Mindset

Well, you may ask: what does it mean to have no cultural identity? And what’s the point anyway? I think that one’s culture largely determines one’s mindset. In this sense, culture is a very broad concept: it is your direct environment (friends, family, school) and also the larger community, religion, nation. I also believe that our native language also shapes our mindset, but that’s a topic in itself… Mindset is important because it’s the single most important thing that determines how happy we are irrespective of our circumstances. Some mindsets are conducive to happiness, some aren’t. Which entails that some cultures are more conducive to happiness than others.

To have a cultural identity means to be bound by all the rules of your direct and broader environment and language. This has the advantage of making you feel that you belong; a basic human need. But… it has the disadvantage of limiting the available options and actions to you when trying to fulfil your needs. Think about making friends, getting married, studying or getting a job and how your culture or the culture you live in is affecting your choices and the way you have to go about these things.

My own lack of cultural identity is due to a combination of factors. Growing up in Hungary, in the last decades of communism (it was good fun by the way), in a secular society, leaving home in my teens and living abroad (in two different countries) for over half of my life. I have learnt to see my own culture: Hungary and Hungarians with the eyes of an outsider. I have integrated into the Netherlands and into the UK, but together with my accent, I preserved a foreign quality. My mindset is in good health and conducive to happiness: I have learnt how to persevere, how to deal with brutal honesty and how to forge life-long friendships from the Hungarians. The Dutch brought me emotional stability, security and tolerance. And the English taught me respect, self-reliance and professionalism. Having no cultural identity is not so bad after all, I have got the best of 3 worlds! 🙂

 

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