China burgeoning economy in recent decades has spurred extravagant lifestyle that flaunt individual and family wealth worsening social tensions especially when being blown out of proportion by minority of judgmental and critical net citizens through the ever influential and wide reaching social … Continue reading
Traditional Chinese is obsessed with ancestral worshiping as most believed those 7 feet under had an overwhelming influences over the living either for good health and prosperity or calamities and sufferings. Its explains why legacy dynastic emperors spared no efforts in construction of their afterlife palaces with extravagant resources in man power, precious collectible and preparation of prime “Feng Shui” burial sites. Some went to the extents of having their live soldiers and servants to be buried together for his disposal in the other side and having hundreds if not thousand of craftsman blindfolded on the way to the construction sites and even having them silenced after completion in order to keep the exact location confidential. Ironically, modern tomb raiders were taking advantage of the same “Feng Shui” principles and legacy literature to identify and had been raiding the tombs of the emperors or wealthy families for valuable belongings buried together with the individual hundreds of thousand of years before. In other words, Chinese believed those who passed aways have just simply gone to the other dimensions and will continue to maintain the same earthly lifestyle and will take good if not better care of their descendants as good as how the livings have been taking care of them in offerings of regular sustenance of fundamental and at times lavish comforts .
Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart—Confucius
In fact, most Chinese believed in continuing of the past, present and to the future and its of paramount important to offer their deceased ancestors living sustenance with foods, drinks, clothing and even hell notes for their disposal in the other world, burial sites with geographical advantages of front sea view and top of the mountain serve as consolidating point of natural fortunes which will overflow to the livings for wealth and abundant life, it involved a complicated formula with different style of Feng Shui master approaches and its not uncommon to have descendants who fair poorly in life confronting one another siblings for relocation of the tomb for better fortunes. Some of the principles of Feng Shui carry scientific arguments; avoid low laying ground for risk of flooding, facing east for better morning Sun and so whereas the rest are mainly a product of thousand of years of Confucius belief and cultural practice fulfilling the psychological needs and desires of the livings.
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.” ― Henry Ford
Its the thousand of years of filial piety of cultural values in accumulation of beliefs in reincarnation of mainly Taoist practice combining with psychological reinforcement explaining this myth of reciprocal social behaviours in ancestral offering and expectation of favours in return; some even disallows married daughters to take part in the ceremony fearing of “diluting” the good fortunes for the Sons offspring of the families. Being the first to “sweep” the tombs during the tomb sweeping day would also bring greater blessings. Disappointment and setbacks in life continue to encourage descendants to look for answers from their deceased elderly for better fortunes and reassurance.
Respect yourself and others will respect you.—Confucius
Influence of Filial piety: The extend of filial piety one demonstrated reflect one’s social standings in the community; nothing short of 100% submission to their elders is expected, unique in Chinese traditions which was a by products of thousand of years of Emperors preferably hierarchical social orders to have their people to serve them as how they serve their parents. As a results, no efforts were spared for an extravagant and elaborate funerals, cemetery and family altars as part of the practice of filial piety as its an act of socially encouraged and very much endorsed on; 3 years of mourning and reflections and all other major ceremonial events like wedding and holidays are strictly prohibited fearing of repercussion of “bad” things happening. Rites are dutifully performed at annual Ghost Festival and Tomb Sweeping Festival for greasing of the palm of the after world to transmute and absolve the sufferings of the deceased and ancestors worshiping. Being filial hold highest regards in Chinese community, being well respected and praised on.
I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.–Confucius
Psychological reinforcements: Its part of sell fulfilling prophecy; Chinese who converted to mainstream religions like Christianity and Islam who didn’t practice the same reciprocal ancestral worshiping are doing probably as well as it could possibly get, its up to which belief systems one would like to engage and it’s applicable to them. In addition, its part of legacy of traditions emphasising on the important of family loyalty, dedication, obligation, part of something larger than themselves, including drawing energy from their deceased family members who they believed to have a continued existences, take an interest in the affairs of the world, and possess the ability to influence the fortune of the living especially of their own offspring. The accompanying strong faith and confidence will therefore help one to achieve greater prosperity; as a matter of fact, they owe it to themselves more than their beloved ancestors for their significant accomplishment not unlike the modern ritual one perform for the calming and self-assuring effects one had before facing a challenging tasks. The ritual could well be a prayer, singing a song or writing to set one frame of mind into something one is familiar and comfortable and feeling good about oneself;
“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”― William Shakespeare,
Summary: Filial piety as an indispensable virtue is well regarded in their peers of respects, obedience and high moral grounds of one’s parents, elders and ancestors, ensuring the ancestors’ continued well-being and positive disposition towards the living, it serve to cultivate kinship values like filial piety, family loyalty, and continuity of the family lineage, together with the lack of mainstream faith to address the questions of afterlife, Chinese developed a system of myth of reciprocal worshiping of their ancestral spirits for the blessing of prosperity of the living, after all, that’s what’s family are for, taking care of each other needs now and even well in the other world. Its all about which belief system one chooses reaffirming a principle that has served Chinese well for centuries. Reciprocal Chinese ancestral worshipping therefore fulfil an important cultural and practical roles in strengthening the core values of a family taking up the glorifying duties of filial piety looking after each others and pledging of one loyalty to one another, believing in a system that meaningfully help one another to achieve greater things in life.
“Ohana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten”― Lilo and stitch
It is rather striking to observe how someone always gotten lucky consistently? One can simply feel the positive energy overflowing within that individual with exceptionally strong optimistic emotions touching and transforming others meaningfully whereas many other peers keep being victimised into the ever present and powerful temptation of … Continue reading
In the past, traditional Chinese scholars take sympathy with the laborers in the agriculture society for their hardship in making a living; as academics are not very much better off financially to those who trade their physical labors to earn … Continue reading
Going through midlife crisis is an inescapable dilemma as everyone ages and there is no exception even in China with decades of extra ordinary economic progress since 70s. Middle age man crisis usually was defined for man between 40 and 80 years of age but the more relevant criteria ought to be on psychological level; when one decided he had done all he could and had entered a phase of non aggressive lifestyle and begin reflecting the past; in addition. Not unlike others, Chinese man also often wonder and second guess their life objective beginning from mid 30s once they had established a stable livelihood and family with young children to provide for.
“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.” Epicurus
Therefore, we can examine the symptoms of Chinese middle age man crisis in 3 perspectives; state of physical, self-perception and social supports; getting old is not something new as many past generations had also gone through the process as on one can escape the eventuality of aging and death assuming one escape others means of premature mortality; lifestyle related sickness and accident, as man ironically becomes the greatest enemy of their own in the unprecedented peacetime and medical advancement and place us far ahead of the life curve gaining easily 20 to 30 years of life expectancy for Chinese man between 70s and 2020s.
Deteriorating Physical Performance: Midlife Chinese man inevitably going through overall degradation of physical health common to man on prostate enlargement, lifestyle complication of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, impotent and weight gain often exacerbated by poor quality of rest and all had collectively taken a toll on one’s performance in work, family and social life. Tell tales signs of frequent toilet break in night disrupting quality sleep, receding hairlines, lowering threshold of tolerance on delays, problems, susceptible of becoming annoyed or anxious on trivial matters are all part of a package of growing old.
“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” ― Albert Einstein
Challenges in keeping healthy Self perception: We live in a consumable and online culture where personal glorification are the norm with the endless stream of gloating Facebook posts and self-congratulatory LinkedIn updates: evidence has suggested that there is a link between high Facebook activity and depression. Ego and sense of achievement are two major enemy for Chinese man in their 40s and beyond. Asian man with the heaviest financial commitment in this transition period tend to suck up all the pressure within themselves and normally seldom being emotionally expressive enough to tap on peer supports; unlike their counterparts of women who are proven to be more emotional and stress resilient, many middle aged Chinese eventually blew their top off once the pressure within break the threshold level and had the the lowest self-respect and self-worth as many yet to achieve the climax in their careers or businesses with maximum contribution not realizing typical definition of success can had two aspects; both personal satisfaction and organisation fulfillment.
Weakening Family support: Marital affairs peak as many Chinese middle aged man who had established stability and wealth seek out unknowingly to relish the youth and pleasant thrills with younger counterparts often ended up with messy complication; gone were the days where Chinese man draws great pride and self-dignity being the sole breadwinner of the households; well respected and hold unquestionable high ground in his social circles; However modern days’s dual income arrangement with both better educated parents earning an income to battle the rising cost of competitive living in cities where women often shines and outperform the males and unwittingly downplay the inherent ego the man needed to thrive in his pursuit of glory and meanings especially in his midlife stage. Some younger and well-versed man self adjust and accommodate to the new demographic demands well but many others falls into the abyss of self-doubts and gone astray seeking alternative meanings.
“The best things in life are simple, abundant, and free.” ― Debasish Mridha
Remedy for Midlife Crisis Soft Landing: Well, none can defy the law of nature of maturity but ensuring one get sufficient rest goes a long way to maintain and enhance one’s natural immunity shield is the first step; in addition, having the correct perspective and values would had helped many to go through the transition and learn to accept certain matters are out of your hands in the larger scheme of things. Set the right priority and what is the main objective in life and stop giving excuses of lacking of time for things that truly matters; Active engagement of moderate social group with like minded individuals with a common higher values play a key part. i.e. Christian cell group, self-help gathering, bible study group. Another important but effective remedy is having Spouses of the middle age Chinese man to learn to thread the thin line in massaging man’s ego and go the extra miles in promoting man’s sensitiveness and invulnerability for a win-win outcome and last but not least; listen to the advice or two of older peers who had successfully maneuvered for a smooth soft landings.
“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” Confucius
Summary: Trickiest notion about midlife crisis is expectation management. The proliferation of new media tested the moral fiber of Chinese man competing to outshine each other like there is no tomorrow striving to meet the criteria of contemporary definition of success giving in the the massive influences of peer pressure and public media. Not unlike Winter had barely begun, but the chill has set in prematurely, we outlive our predecessor by few decades and middle age transition had set in way to much earlier relatively. The midlife groom underscores Chinese man long term happiness sole reliance on economic progress and neglected others aspects on what defines happiness.
It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness.– Charles Spurgeon
In fact, getting old graciously emerging from midlife crisis as decent survivors with the integrity of family, career, self-worth, physical well-being and social peers intact is a lesson all Chinese man had to learn and apply, Chinese man are living in the longest peacetime ever, enjoying all the fruits life had got to offer, with longer lifespan, better health management and comforts of modern day livings. Midlife challenges simply means one had overcome all the odds our predecessors once succumbed and living is never this rewarding before so long we learn to manage our expectations and embracing the facts that we belong to something greater than ourselves collectively.
Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, — ‘Now we’re just here to be memories for our kids.
Most Chinese are driven by inspiration for better lives and to lesser and seldom examined extent; insecurities, as an economical being in nature, money is the ultimate measuring yardstick of one worthiness in modern China as many of whom struggle to assimilate in one of Asia’s most economically inspiring place in the past few decade where global trade had been favoring China in an unprecedented manner.
However, many had begun to appreciate what’s life is truly all about, feeling still unsatisfied even after achieving their financial goals. Although it takes time to make money but one can’t buy more time with money as the popular Chinese proverb saying. The bottom lines is having the right values of time as an finite resources can’t be accumulated like wealth and one must use the time wisely for self-enlightenment for the benefits of oneself, families and communities.
一寸光阴一寸金，寸金难买寸光阴–. An interval of time is worth an ounce of gold, money cannot buy you time. (idiom) / fig. Time is precious and must be treasured.
As a result, we owe it to ourselves to keep reminding ourselves time actually can be multiplied with the proper investment strategies and learn how to take advantage of the true nature of time and lastly recognizing that the principle of diminishing returns also apply on time as we age along the way.
Passengers; Aurora: “You can’t get so hung up on where you’d rather be, that you forget to make the most of where you are.”
Return on Investment By investing the scare resources of time wisely, the returns could be in money as well as extra free time, the key is to draw the line once fundamental needs had been fulfilled, then the extra time transforms itself into consumable or even extravagant and luxurious nature and had to be properly allocated for spending away. “Use it or lose it”; holidays; recreational activities or even routine exercising; anything that’s are soul and physical enriching and rewarding. Although many still made the common mistakes of using the extra time into creating more wealth as they didn’t know any other better ways; In facts, some even panics and felt uneasy with the extra time on hand lacking of non-monetary higher calling and purposes. Unlike their peers in Frances who fiercely defended their legendary long holidays and shorter workdays and truly distinguish between working and personal lives, many Chinese still thinking and worrying about works while on vacation probably due to the sense of obligation and weak psychological resilience .
“My favorite things in life don’t cost any money. It’s really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time.” – Steve Jobs
Different nature of Time and Wealth Time as a scarce resources had two distinct features of being both productive as well as consumptive, mutually exclusive for our mortal lives; The more time used for productive activities the lesser time left for enjoyment. Making best use of the extra time meaningfully is a lifestyle concept most newly minted middle income Chinese yet to fully comprehend and embrace as time was habitually deployed as a resource to earn income and the problem has been exacerbated in recent years because of catching up with the rest of the world economically, psychologically and socially. Relationship between wealth and general well-being satisfaction have sunk to their worst level in years as Chinese associated wealth with only money alone and unlike wealth, time can’t be accumulated, once gone its gone and nevertheless the extra time one had had distinctive different values at varying stages of one life time as the perspective and physical conditions changes as we grow old, certain matters had to be pursued at certain age for maximum satisfactory results; for example; quality time with young children, taking care of one diet and health…etc…
Oprah Winfrey: “You can have it all. Just not all at once.”
However, many are still struggling to cope in meeting the ever changing inspiration of success by trading in their time for more wealth instead of using the time for rest and recreation for self-actualization like their peers in Europe.
Diminishing returns Majority faces dilemma in deciding to use the time for leisure or income, pushing off until one retires where plenty of extra time are at one’s disposal but many Chinese had overlook the implication of one’s degrading strength and focuses when one ages along the way. Concerns over the diminishing returns of one’s consuming of time dim the allure of putting off rest and recreations until one stopped working in the 60 or 70s and those who had the insights and resources had begun migrating out of China in pursuit of their dream lifestyle in their prime. Ineffective use of free time undermines inspiring Chinese aim of moving up the hierarchy Maslow levels.
The core problem of putting of leisure time until retires is energy; defined in physics as the capacity to work, energy comes from four main wellsprings in human beings: the body, emotions, mind, and spirit. In each, energy can be systematically expanded and regularly renewed by establishing specific rituals—behaviors that are intentionally practiced and precisely scheduled, with the goal of making them unconscious and automatic as quickly as possible.
“I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.”― Jim Carrey
The irony is at the stages where one with the highest level of energy in their primes time of 30 to 50s are the time with minimum access to free time as mostly tied down with financial liability and family commitment. Striking a balance is easier said then done if one didn’t place emphasis on the right set of values. One got to squeeze as much free time as possible and most importantly spend them all during the prime years for maximum returns.
Oscar Wilde: ‘Be yourself; everyone else is already taken. … “Don’t compromise yourself – you’re all you have.”
Summary Values are ultimate deciding factors, wealth consisted more than financial resources; good health, robust and strong networks, strong and resilient mind, fulfilling job, loving and dedicated partners and families, peace of mind, sense of purposes and most importantly; free time. But unlike at the initial stages of the liberation of trade and business where earning a better living ignited the imagination for hundreds of millions of Chinese and stirred up their exuberance on the outlooks of better lives and many had salivated at the thought of having lots of financial gains and neglected in identifying what exactly are the ultimate goals; making money isn’t an end in itself but one of the many means in attaining the purpose of life. Time as a scarce resource must be valued and used wisely, Chinese had come a long way in climbing up the economical ladders on par with their more developed neighbors at least financially, its time to reap the reward and truly enjoy their well deserved lives by learning to expense of their free time on themselves.
Fear of collective losing out are inflating the biggest ever property bubbles across all major cities in China and it had begun spilling over to the neighbouring countries in an unprecedented manner
The common do or die imperative are inculcated in hundreds of millions of modern Chinese where narrowing of opinions had established the ultimate new guaranteed path to happiness; Properties; either in tier 1 or now increasingly tier 2 or 3 cities. Unlike other peers, China had been deploying a planned economic strategy where GDP was predetermined, planned and executed for the past few decades ever since she opened her gigantic doors to international trade and commerce. Properties being one of the key driving force for economic growth play an indispensable force behind the 40 years of significant growth.
However, there are already probably more than enough apartments for every single Chinese families for their accommodating needs. The accelerating pace of urbanisation helps worsening the speculation as proper planning wasn’t in placed to cater for the new demographic profile and younger families are increasingly being priced out. Moreover, in an effort to leverage on strong domestic demands in the backdrop of dwindling international trade; hundred of thousands if not million of farming families from rural region were relocated into the newly built high rise apartments in town area therefore severing them from their legacy strong hold of dependencies on lands, mother earth which had been nourishing million of Chinese with her abundant life giving resources in agriculture and other means; all one need is an access to a plot of land for sustenance for his whole family.
Despite having a respectable portion of newer generation in the newly settled living quarters having the suitable opportunities and exposure to connect with the new society making a decent living in employments, many were left out and majority still feel insecure and hallow within not having their feet touching the soils being housed in their multi-story apartments and these uneasiness had reinforced in the irrational buying up as many properties as one can through saving and credits further inflating the prices despite multiple round of cooling measures Government had deployed.
Of course, there are couple of others factors detailed below collectively explains the obsession Chinese had over on properties; its had gone way beyond the fundamental sheltering needs; filling the big black holes of insecurities, anxiety, life purpose, mistrusts, peer pressure and so on and these phenomena had spilled over to oversea where local developers and land owners benefited enormously more often than not on the expenses of local domestic residents on their fundamental housing needs:
Whatever money you might have, self-worth really lies in finding out what you do best. J. K. Rowling
Lack of mainstream faith: The values Chinese held are the determining factors on all matters; worries, agonies, happiness and suffering itself are simply neutral events depending how one perceive them. Without faith and religion, we tend to establish our self-worth on possession of external things. Decade of cultural revolution in the 60s had essentially dismantled ancient faith and belief systems and many simply follow the contemporary dynamic definition of success and happiness mostly led by Government propaganda and mass public media which was solely commercially influenced. eg. TV drama over promoting on consumerism and relentless pursuit of wealth
Bench marking with others: Chinese are obsessed with ranking and comparison. All the way from children’s grade, talents and choice of school to salaries and welfare benefits in the work place. Many grew up with their parent’s competitive nature and became envious about other’s establishments and throw in our own beliefs to make one feel inferior and unworthy and making a habit out of it. Instead of pursuing true happiness, most are blinded by comparative happiness; one must be better of than neighbors, peers, colleagues and even the distant cousins. Most overlooked the ultimate level of the quest for the realizations of personal potential and self fulfilment, its all personal and had nothing to do with others.
Mistrust on the Authority: Chinese is susceptible to some of their worst instinct when one begin to lose faith in the system in safe guarding their accumulated wealth, the same regime which had allowed individuals to own private wealth and brought in huge amount of trades and employments opportunities since the 70s. No check and balance can redeem what private Chinese citizen have unleashed on the pursuit of prosperity and happiness, its inevitable one wanted to have more autonomy and control moving up the Abraham Maslow hierarchy of needs; started off with biological toward physiological imperatives. The regime had to accommodate the up and rising inspiration of the hundred of millions of the middle income group although the aspiring need of more autonomy might never have been as important politically as the current administrator believed.
In summary, overheated properties market in China reflects a increasing level of collective anxiety and insecurities, from middle age generation of Chinese in their 40s and 50s who is going through the uphill tasks of taking care of his or her aging parents with no other sibling to shoulder the burdens, a consequences of “One Child Policy” to older generation in their 70s and 80s who had missed out in maximising their God given potentials due to the decade long “Cultural Revolution. Many newly minted middle income families with significant disposable income subconsciously had this unspeakable fears of having their bright and rewarding destiny taken away from them overnight had chosen to “Properties” to either leverage on the “risk” or simply wanted to secure a delusive peace of mind.
There is another important factor in play. “Internet”. Instead of true liberation, social media networking had effectively transform into the modern day witch hunting machine, consolidating data trends from massive number of online citizens where convenient of anonymity had distorted their genuine perspective and opinions, their avatars had taken a new identify of their own and sometimes eye catching and sensational news dwelling on sensitive topics on democratic, religions, raising silver population, stagnant economy and shrinking job openings raise pressure on the authority to act as to justify their fundamental rationale of being in power, one of the key social contract is to provide all Chinese a good life in terms of healthy trade and commerce, reasonable access to healthcare and abundant of decent of jobs opportunities for the younger generation in return of legitimacy in continuing ruling the country.
“I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.”
― Jim Carrey
p/s: The American psychologist Abraham Maslow identified a hierarchy of needs beginning with the biological and physiological imperatives of air, food, drink, shelter, warmth and rest. These proceed to the desire for protection from the elements and fear, and revolve around security, order, law and stability. A higher level involves friendship, intimacy, trust and acceptance. Then, there is the need for achievement, independence and status. Finally, the quest for the realizations of personal potential and fulfillments represents the pinnacle of the pyramid of needs.