Cultural differences in happiness

Cultural differences in happiness

In my workshops, I find that Chinese executives are receptive to positive interventions but something about Chinese culture gets in the way of their pursuit of happiness, and until these concerns are addressed, their pursuit of happiness will be a futile endeavor. Two weeks ago, I facilitated a resilience workshop for a group of middle managers from the logistics industry in Beijing, and last week, a stress management workshop for executives in Shanghai. I thought I_ã_d share some insights from these two workshops, and in general about the psychological well-being of Chinese professionals.

Geert Hofstede in his work _ã–Culture_ã_s Consequences,_㝠probed deeply into the differences between individualist cultures and collectivist cultures. An individualist culture encourages individual preferences and dynamics in a society, setting the individual ego up against others, while a collectivist culture, of which Chinese culture is one, stresses the collective interest and downplays personal preferences and interests. According to Chinese culture, the relationship between the individual and the collective is intimately linked with social norms, which are tied to value systems shared by the majority. The following concepts may help you understand the causes of stress and adversity from the perspective of Chinese people.

Guanxi ??

Guanxi literally means _ã–relationships._㝠It is the network of relationships among various parties that cooperate together and support one another. It can be seen as who you know and what they perceive to be their obligation to you.

Reciprocity ??

This concept can be defined as individuals and groups exchanging favors. People will ask for favors from those with whom they have guanxi. The recipient of a favor or gift will feel obliged to return the favor. It sometimes causes unnecessary stress and strain on a relationship because we do things out of _ã–have to_㝠rather than _ã–choose to_㝠or _ã–love to_㝠motivation. Every time I share something with my neighbor, some fruit or homemade cakes, my neighbor will reciprocate the next day with something of equivalent perceived value. My generosity actually put them on the spot, scrambling to find something to reciprocate!

Find out more about positive psychology and happiness from the perspective of the Chinese – click here