Understanding Japan (2): Structured mentality

January 15, 2017

By Eddy Montilla.

DRUM

An old axiom says: “We do what we think”. But if you are not entirely convinced of it, you can confirm it by watching some enormous Japan’s steel structures: They are safe, hermetic and framed like… the way people think in that country.

     The common use and selection of a word over others in a region is not something done at random or on a whim, but this selection represents the way of being and thinking of the people who live there. If you travel to Japan, frequent words that you will hear are “omou” (think), “yotei” (plan), “shinpai” (worried) y “anzen” (safe). These words can give us a clue about the basis on which Japanese personality is forged and established: Japanese people can only find peace of mind when all things are under control (I mean, everything is well planned and safe). Therefore, if possible, their activities should leave no room for improvisation. Let’s see an example:

     In Japan, the beginning of a new year is not in January, but in spring, when the fiscal and schools year really begin and new employees will make their “debut”. During this time, you can go to any ceremony and the person in charge of delivering the introductory speech will make quickly reference to the end of the winter, and above all, the arrival of the spring and well known Japanese cherry blossoms. In that regard, everything, every word is planned throughout to a point that you will find books to write speeches for all occasions: funerals, weddings, etc.

CHERRY-BLOSSOMS-2

     This kind of fixed and schematic mentality is instilled into Japanese people at early age until it becomes a feature of their personality and something very common. As a result of this, things should be inside a foreseeable frame. If something is out of it, anxiety and some kind of sense of unease will be haunting them, sometimes with terrible consequences. So, they will be working, as many hours as necessary until the unexpected and new situation turns into an old one, that is, something that can be handle according to the “handbook” they have for each case.

     Compared to other ways of thinking, the Japanese mentality provides one of the best chances for success thanks to its constant emphasis on planning, security and logical answers for problems. In fact, it has been the key that has kept Japan for so many years with a solid economic growth despite its situation after the Second World War.

     The other side of the coin, however, does not seem to be so good. Trying to keep everything under absolute “control”, trying to find perfection everywhere has created “uncontrollable” levels of stress that have pushed more than 30000 people every year to commit suicide for decades. If Tanaka, to cite an example, forgets the keys to open the place where a party will be held and Kawauchi forgets the drinking glasses, because of the delay that this situation creates, even though it has not started yet, the party will be considered a failure. And the most important thing: Since Japanese people do not forgive as quickly as they say “gomennasai” (ごめんなさい=I am sorry), Tanaka and Kawauchi will face tough times. Without any intention of falling into stereotypes, in the same situation, but with different people in a Latin American country, the party had probably started right there: in front of the closed door. Someone who, by the way, was not the person in charge of the drinking glasses would have gone to the house of a supposed friend near the place to get them and… at the end, everybody would have gone home joking about the problems they had to start the party, laughing and saying that they enjoyed the party a lot. This story can teach us that flexibility during contingencies is as important as planning.

     Japanese mentality shies away from uncertain situations. However, uncertainty might also be a “friend” when it comes to inventions. Note that most of greatest inventions that have changed the world have not come from Japan, but from USA, England, France, Italy and other European countries. Japan has improved them, as it has done with cars, bullet trains, etc.

     Finally, we can conclude that if some aspects that characterized the way of thinking and acting in other cultures, like a good dose of humor, flexibility and certain amount of drive in the face of the unknown is added to the Japanese mentality, we could have found an incredible method of thinking that can solve not only many of your personal problems, but can help to have a better world too.

Copyright 2017 littlethingsforall.wordpress.com. All rights are reserved.

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Tell me the answer: What is the best move when you do not know what to do?

January 14, 2017

By Eddy Montilla.

STRESS

A waiting move, because any precipitous action leads most of the time to failure. A waiting move is typical of analytical games, especially of chess. It is used when the situation is not clear, so you just make a move that will not compromise your position until you can see something better.

Copyright 2017 littlethingsforall.wordpress.com. All rights are reserved.


Curiosities: Why does your body shiver when you are cold?

December 5, 2016

By Eddy Montilla.

cold

I could not use my bicycle last night because of the rain, so I decided to go home by bus. While waiting at the bus stop, I noticed two things about the girl who was in front of me: One, she was wearing a miniskirt and boots despite a temperature between three and four degrees. Second, she was shivering.

     “Social conventions and male chauvinism dictate cruel rules sometimes” I thought. “If you are a young girl, people expect you to show your legs even in winter and extend the length of your skirt some centimeters annually as you are getting old until the day comes when you cannot even see your feet.” Then my thoughts went back to the second observation: Why does your body shiver when we are cold?

     On very cold moments, your body temperature drops from its normal parameters (from 36°C to 37°C) to lower values that can lead to hypothermia, a dangerous condition because of a long exposure to cold. After moving or running for a while, you take your coat off as soon as you feel hot, right? And you do that because friction and movements produce heat. Sometimes, we do not remember this fact, but our body does, and that’s why it shivers: As an attempt to protect you by raising the body temperature.

Copyright 2016 littlethingsforall.wordpress.com. All rights are reserved.


Thought of the day: Planning

November 27, 2016

By Eddy Montilla.

PLAN

To plan your life and work will not solve all your problems, but it will lighten your burden because a lack of planning leads to the beginning of chaos.


Thought of the day: Change

November 7, 2016

By Eddy Montilla.

change

Only two things are unavoidable in life: Death and change. About the first one, it is almost nothing what we can do. As for changes, specially these days when we undergo constant transformations at a rhythm that our society had not been seen or faced with in the past, you should be smart enough to accept them, to accept their existence and reality to avoid failure and great stress. And after that, be wise to adhere to those changes that really matter while putting the others far away from you.

Copyright 2016 littlethingsforall.wordpress.com. All rights are reserved.


Thought of the day: Happiness and pain

September 1, 2016

By Eddy Montilla.

LOVE-PAIN

Happy and sad moments share something in common: They always come to an end and they always revive. The biggest difference is that when your happy moments die, not always sad moments are born as result of it, but when your sad moments die, as a reward, your happy moments are reborn to bring you consolation, peace and, above all, to make you feel happier. If you are sad because you lost your job, someone very important to you passed away or for any other reason, remember that happy moments die, but so does pain. Be patient, hold on tight, hang in there. Sooner or later, your pain will die and your good moments will be reborn to be at your side.

Copyright 2016 littlethingsforall.wordpress.com. All rights are reserved.


Lessons of life: The lesson of the chess game

August 30, 2016

By Eddy Montilla.

CHESS

My father taught me how to play chess at early age, so early that I cannot remember the moment. Since then, I have learned a lot of things from this analytical game, things that I usually try to apply to my life. I have learned to be patient, not to force the issue and move according to the circumstances until I can be in better position to move forward. I have learned to find the best answer, to take the best decision by observing all my possibilities, etc.

    In chess, a player has a specific rating that puts him or her in a particular category. In my case, I consider myself an average player with a rating between 1700 and 1800 (lass B, category 2). Last month, I was playing chess on the Internet, and every time my opponent was under my rating, I felt like a hungry lion ready to devour its prey. However, despite my almost endless optimism, when the player was over my rating, I felt like a dog with its tail between its legs.

    These days, I have decided to try something different and hide my opponent’s rating, name, nationality, etc., and now I only keep in front of me the chessboard. What has been the result? I have been winning four and five games in a row. Today, my rating is 1950, that is, “class A, category 1”. I also defeated two players over 2000 for the first time in my life. Players with this level are called experts. Now, when I play against these excellent players, their high ratings do not fill me with fear any more. The moral of this story is not my personal accolades, but this idea: You don’t know how far you can go, you cannot imagine what you are capable of once you gain confidence and control your fear.

    Until now, I have written more than 1000 stories and without any doubt, this is the most boring one, but believe me, it is also the most assertive and reliable among all of them because the idea I told you today was tested by myself it works. Control your fear, gain confidence and things that looked almost impossible for you, they will be suddenly in your hands.

Copyright 2016 littlethingsforall.wordpress.com. All rights are reserved.