Discover more from Sunday Spark
The power of culture
Culture can initiate significant change; a shift in our views as a society on climate change can be a catalyst. It also has the power to hold us back.
Culture is an invisible force; yet a powerful one.
Culture is the customary beliefs, values, norms and expectations of a social group or environment. It exists in many shapes and forms. We find it in our relationships, families, at work, at the gym, in our communities and our countries. Culture is everywhere.
It can initiate significant change; a shift in our views as a society on climate change can be a catalyst. It also has the power to hold us back, afraid to step wrongfully and be viewed negatively because of the surrounding cultural expectations.
Being naked in front of friends while enjoying a sauna isn’t something most people are comfortable with in North America; it’s not in our culture. It’s not to say that some aren’t comfortable with it, but overall it’s not widespread culturally. In Finland however, being naked in the sauna is just good etiquette; it’s part of everyday life. As a result, over the years of living in Finland, Katja Pantzar, the Finnish Way writer, became very comfortable with it even though, in the past, she remembered it as something inconceivable.
Creating change can become more accessible to us when the culture surrounding us, its beliefs, values and principles reflect the changes we seek to make. It’s not to say that change is impossible without it, but it certainly makes it easier.
Take food. Many groups have food as a critical component of their culture; it’s directly linked to how they connect. Attempting to make food lifestyle changes outside the norm in such an environment can be extremely challenging, regardless of the reasons. Those changes have direct impact on how one would connect with the people surrounding them.
Coming back to the sauna and its etiquette around being naked, one might choose not to engage in the sauna lifestyle. Although, just as such, the cultural beliefs and values regarding the sauna are strong in Finland. As Katja Pantzar from The Finnish Way puts it, not having a sauna would be akin to refusing to eat with everyone at the dinner party.
Knowing culture exists and being aware of its impact on us is the first step. It enables us to reflect on the beliefs we hold and challenge whether they belong to us or the culture surrounding us.
Culture is beautiful, and it’s part of being human. The goal isn’t to reject it; it’s to embrace it consciously on our own terms.
Does the culture in your personal or work environment enable or disable you to reach your goals? Take some time to reflect on how it might be impacting you. Reach out if you’d like to discuss it a little more.
A favourite this week
The Finnish Way: I’ve been listening to the audio version of this book; I’ve really enjoyed it. It focuses on Sisu, a cultural way of being in Finland. It’s not a technical book, more of a storytelling of experiences and results from research. I found it insightful, and more importantly a joy to listen to. I’ve enjoyed learning more about the Finnish culture; there’s a lot we can learn from it. I will admit, I would not necessarily have finished this book if I were to have read it, but in audiobook format, it was very pleasant.
Quote of the week
Sisu is like the somatic embodiment of mental toughness.
Sparknotion – Think Differently.