Thursday, October 22, 2015

3 Things Chinese Culture Does That Everyone Should Do

China's culture can be frustrating at times. People push and shove instead of forming lines to wait. People spit and smoke everywhere. But Chinese culture also embraces some great ideas, ideas that every culture around the world could benefit from. Here are 3 things that Chinese culture does that every country should adopt...

1. Napping At Work

You probably know China is a workaholic culture, but what you probably didn't know is that Chinese culture strongly believes in resting too – even at work. After lunch, Chinese workers typically have a nap for 30 minutes to 1 hour to recharge for the second half of the day. They return to work more productive, something which ties into the workaholic culture. It's really a bit of obvious wisdom, but the West unfortunately ignores this. Anyone who has ever taken a “power nap” can attest to how beneficial the practice is.

Imagine a typical Western employer not only allowing but encouraging their workers to take afternoon power naps! Even though the benefits are proven, the culture is paranoid about even appearing lazy, even if it is for something beneficial, like afternoon naps. It ends up hurting the workers, and even the companies, who end up losing productivity from their employees.

2. Not Drinking Cold Drinks At Meals

If you're a Western person, you probably love having cold water or soda or tea with your meals. But in China this rarely happens. It can be hard even to just find a cold drink (ice cold, that is) because Chinese culture recognizes that drinking cold drinks with your meals is bad for your digestion. In the West, people usually drink more also because the food is saltier, whereas in China people don't have such salty food usually. When they do drink at meals, the beverage is usually room temperature. If they don't have a drink, then they usually have soup to go along with their meal. Their noodles are typically served in soup as well, which the person drinks after eating the noodles.

Many restaurants in China don't even have cold drinks at all, even letting bottles of water, soda, and beer just sit out and stay at room temperature. Asking for a cold drink might elicit a befuddled look, or someone telling you that it's not healthy.

I'm not suggesting that anyone ban cold drinks at meals, I'm simply saying that this is a good practice.

3. Natural Medicine

In the West, doctors now give out pills like they are candy. People are quick to gobble up medicines like antibiotics (which has led to “superbugs” - germs which increasingly resist weaker antibiotics.) People also gobble up anti-depressants, applying an artificial “solution” to a problem with a natural, humane solution (i.e. having human contact, romance, relationships.) China has modern medicine of course, but people, especially for more common, lesser ailments, will typically take a natural remedy for their problem. They aren't quick to rush to the doctor for some artificial pill. For minor illnesses, like colds or flu, Chinese people would usually make a special soup or use herbs to treat it. Hospitals are usually reserved for more major problems like injuries or problems that require surgeries.

China has preserved its ancient study of medicine, and Chinese universities that focus on traditional Chinese medicine are ubiquitous throughout the country. Much of that ancient wisdom has been preserved to be passed on to students in the present.

I was very impressed recently when I went to a friend's university (of Chinese medicine) and saw how expansive their study of traditional medicine is. Her university had a museum about traditional medicine, as well as wall displays in the halls about different medicines, and ample facilities. It was an interesting sight, and I realized how sick Western society is that it entrusts health to pharmaceutical companies and uncaring doctors that care only for profits. Health in the U.S. At least has been corporatized and is only about profits. There are some exceptions, but those who explore other avenues to health are typically derided.

I've talked before about how China has lots of personal freedom compared to Western countries, but this is an equally important point: Chinese people are not subjected to commodification of their health like, say, Americans are. This is another freedom lacking in modern Western countries, and something that Western countries would do well to learn from.


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  2. Thanks. I have something new to add. I recently had the flu. One of my students took me to the doctor and got me some herbal Chinese medicine. Within two hours of taking it, I felt 90% better. It was pretty impressive.

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