How I Would Build My Own Country From Other Cultures.

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I grew up and lived 45 years in Sweden, then moved to Istanbul, Turkey and now I live in Shanghai, China. Three very different cultures. I can see a lot of pros and cons in each culture. If I were to create a country of my own I would like to take some characteristics from each country. I wouldn’t be the first one trying to build a new country or society like that. When Atatürk founded the new Turkey he looked around the world to find the best bank system, the best school system, a good alphabet, women’s rights etc. Just when you start up a new country, group or organization everyone is open minded and enthusiastic. You remember where you come from and clearly see the necessity of a change. But after a generation or two, there are no firsthand memories of the old days and the wish to invite change is not that great any longer. Culture sets in!

I read a good definition of culture a while ago: Culture is the way we do things around here.

“Here” could be in this family, in this school, in this neighborhood, in this country, in this organization. That gives us comfort and predictability. We know how to behave and what to expect here. But it deprives us of the openness and readiness to evaluate if there might be even better ways of doing some things. And eventually we might even think that the way we do things around here is the absolutely best, truest and only way for everyone …

But how can we make room for that openness? Firstly I think we have to feel secure. Fear is always the threat to any change! The problem is that “security” means so very different things to different people. For some it’s to know that there’s an armed force outside the door, for others it’s to have friends and family around, for some to know what every day will look like. If we could feel a bit more secure in ourselves, knowing that we are all humans and there is a wish to be happy in everyone, that might open up for new ideas. I know that might sound very difficult, but if you have ever lived in a culture different from your own (in another country or another family) you might have realized that you have to trust in yourself and relax in knowing who you are and what you want, because you can’t rely on understanding what the people around you are going to do next!

Secondly, we have to be curious. Why on earth are they doing like that? First try to understand how it can be that they have such a different way of doing things here? What are the pros and cons? Are there any aspects of this that would actually be more beneficial to me than the ones I’m doing?

Thirdly, remind yourself of your core values. Do you really know what is truly important to you? Sometimes we get so focused on all the little everyday things and get irritated and discuss it endlessly (and media is doing a good job helping us here!), instead of putting it in perspective and see that it actually doesn’t matter at all.

So in my imaginary country I would take the warmth and hospitality of the people of Istanbul, the good sides of their honor culture, where you take care of each other in society, the flexible driving in Istanbul (you could always make a U-turn anywhere, using some smiles and hand waving), the food, the writing (you spell everything exactly the way it sounds – or vice versa). From Shanghai I would choose the ever present focus on your own health for a long and energetic life, the creativity and eagerness to make business, the readiness for change every day and adults’ enthusiasm in what we in West would think of as childish amusements. And I would love for women in my country to feel that it’s absolutely okay to be a director of a big company and dress in a Hello Kitty dress, with a Peppa Pig dangling from her cell phone! From Sweden I would bring equality; both parents engaging in their children, household and each other’s career. I like that the whole society structure, as well as in organizations, is pretty flat and that we respect people for their contribution instead of their authority. I would bring the care for nature and animals and the pretty well functioning justice. I’ll take the fresh air, midsummer celebration and tasty BUTTER!

That would be a great country! But if the inhabitants would also think that this is great that would be the end of it. “This is great, but let’s look around and see how we can be constantly influenced by others to make it evolving and developing forever”. That would be my motto!

Can I choose a nicer feeling?

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If I was not worried about this situation, but felt calm and positive about it – would that change anything for me?

This last week I have been trying a little bit extra to focus on my everyday fear. I always say that all emotions come from either fear or love. As if irritation, worry, anger, anxiety or frustration have their roots in a place of fear, while harmony, happiness, contentment and hope have their roots in a place of love. Like a “fear mode” and a “love mode”.

It’s natural for us to look for dangers all the time, since that’s more crucial for our survival than signs of kindness or love. We have done that for so many years that it has become the first hand choice for our subconscious – to choose an emotion coming from fear rather than considering one from love.

I therefore have to make a conscious effort to first realize that what I’m feeling is coming from fear.
“I’m worried.”
Then I have to ask myself what it would feel like if I picked a feeling coming from love, calmness for example.
“That would be much nicer and I would be much more relaxed”.
So I continue and ask myself if something in reality would change if I choose to focus more on being calm than worried.
“Maybe I would make decision that are better for everyone involved. I would probably be more creative. And perhaps more fun to be around!”
Do I have anything to earn from continuing being worried?
“No, I just don’t want to be naïve, but I can’t actually see that things could change for the worse if I changed the roots of this emotion from fear to love.”

Piece of cake? Not exactly. But interesting and a good way of growing and developing.

If you want to try you don’t have to start with the big fears in your life. Start with a little useless negativity that you have in your mind or body right now.

 Are you irritated, frustrated, bitter or low about something or someone particular today?
 What if you were not?
 What positive emotion could you choose instead?
 Would that be nicer? Want to give it a try?

Write a little note or place something symbolic on your desk (I have my symbolic bracelet that reminds me of today’s challenge!) or set the alarm and think about the situation and your feelings from the “love place” as many times as possible today.

Is my Ego just a lump of fearful emotions?

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I’ve been thinking about my ego lately. I read an article about the ego, saying that we will never experience full harmony and love as long as we are so deeply connected to our ego. But what is the ego? Is it an alien living inside of me or am I two kind of people in one body? I have started to think of my ego as if it’s all my fears gathered together like a big lump of emotions. Since we have learned over the years to connect different emotions with different thoughts – and vice versa – these emotions have a lot of thoughts already stored in my brain. Perhaps these thoughts of fear are what we experience as our ego. By “fear” I mean all kinds of negative feelings, like anxiety, worry, embarrassment, unease, anger, bitterness, self-pity.

Whenever I do something totally out of kindness, love or joy there is no ego knocking on my shoulder. I feel harmony and ease. The ego is absent. And if it’s not absent, it will for sure turn that good moment into something negative by telling me that this act of kindness didn’t get the proper response or that my love for someone is not returned – different kinds of fear talking again! The ego making sure that I don’t forget about it!

This would mean that in order for me to feel more harmony in my life I have to get my ego more and more out of the way. How can I do that? I don’t know for sure, but I will start by trying to take a closer look at all these little pieces of fear. What would this moment be like without any kind of fear? How would I respond to this person without any kind of fear? If I was free from all negative emotions, what would I do today?

Maybe that big lump of fearful emotions is like any other kind of infection in the body? When it gets too big it will start to affect me, and if not treated it will take over and eventually make me a victim of the decease.

“The treatment” could of course be a pill – so that I don’t feel any kind of feelings any more. Or perhaps a kind of vaccination – if I boost myself with even more fear I might be one with my ego and not think about harmony or joy at all anymore. Or I do it the military way – I attack! By investigating in my “enemy” I will get to know it and how it’s working. I can then form my strategy and finally attack the Ego. My weapon will be love and understanding! That I will do.

I’ll come back to you with further reports from the battle field!