This amazing guest post was written by Mary Grace, a freelance writer! You can follow her on twitter on @marmygrace.
Ancient Chinese wisdom has its ups and downs. From mercury pills that poisoned the emperor to skin care techniques that will keep your face clean and free from wrinkles for years to come. There is a ton of wisdom that modern china has forgotten (and you can use!) that will be helpful for years to come.
10 Ways Modern China Has Lost Touch With Ancient Chinese Wisdom
1. Eating to Live a Long Time
The Chinese diet is significantly shifting, and while not as fat fueled as the typical American diet, the significant increase in the amount of meat the Chinese consume means big danger for their modern hearts, livers, and pre-cancerous cells. China’s pork consumption has increased five times over since 1979. That’s a lot of bacon lining China’s arteries.
2. Skin Care
Every grandma out walking with a ten-foot long visor (as goofy as it may look) is saving their skin from the harmful rays of the sun. There is definitely some wisdom in keeping your head covered. Your head is not the best way for your body to absorb Vitamin D from the sun and covering your head could prevent skin damage or sun stroke. There is a huge utility in hats and protecting your skin from the poisonous rays shot at it by the sun is super important.
3. Isolationist Kingdom
China hasn’t always been an isolationist kingdom. China has often had enormous trading capabilities, and it was only isolated in brief stints during the 20th century. However, on an individual basis, the ancient Chinese were incredibly secretive, from keeping paper-making and the secrets of silk to a distinct non-reaction for family issues by the Chinese authorities. A closed door policy has been the way for many years but is slowly coming out with a focus on the individual and the open doors of social media. While some doors need to be opened, other should be closed, like this lady eating anything or the plastic faces of Weibo. The repercussions of irresponsible social media posting have been well documented in the west.
4. Herbal Remedies
Traditional herbal remedies have a huge place in the heart of traditional Chinese medicine, and while some herbs are unsafe for consumption,others offer miraculous cures for everything from itchy skin to allergy control. And even though China has severe punishments for certain herbal remedies that can be used to treat pain or chronic discomfort, others can be replaced. Chronic illnesses like kidney disease or diabetes could even be treated with Chinese herbs. Ignoring the past for the sake of pharmaceuticals may not pay off for the modern Chinese.
5. Everyday Exercise and Walking
Another traditional tip that everyone’s favorite grannie does nearly every day, is walking everywhere. Moving a little every day can be the secret to a long and happy life. Everyone from the tai chi in the park to long walking tours in national parks (even with a walking stick to burn more calories). Exercising and getting outside to move at least once a day is a vital part of staying healthy.
Proverbs are great and share insightful wisdom in a short and sweet way. While it may take years of experience to fully comprehend the extent to what is said, having the end answer can be incredibly helpful and provide a guideline for success. For example, these leadership strategies from Sun Tzu can help you succeed in the workplace (and were highly recommended reading in the 1980s). The modern Chinese education system does not focus as heavily on proverbs as it once did and there is a ton of knowledge that may not be passed on.
7. Cult of Individuality and Social Media
Modern China is defining itself on the individual more and more. While the West has always valued the individual and encourages people to find themselves, while China had focused more on the idea that there is no ‘true’ self. In traditional Chinese proverbs, there is definitely less of a focus on the individual. Humans are thought of more as a cloud of emotion rather than having a deep self that needs discovering. However, there is definitely more focus on the individual with the rise of social media starts. People like Zhang Jiale and other super rich Chinese social media stars are all about posting themselves and their wealth all over social media. Which leads to the next way China has changed.
8. Flaunting Wealth and Thrift
Traditionally Chinese people have been focused on thrift and saving money, whereas the new generation is flaunting its new wealth like there is no yesterday, no tomorrow, and only the now to live in. While creating a budget could benefit many middle-class families, flaunting wealth seems a little more important. This doesn’t just apply to the super rich on Chinese social media, but also to the middle class who wears all branded apparel and values looking and showing off their new found wealth.
9. Ability to ‘Eat Bitterness’
One of the strongest traits of ancient Chinese wisdom in the workplace is measuring one’s ability to ‘Eat Bitterness’ as a signal to how well you will do in business. This measurement is not held by the younger generations and is a sign of a lack of loyalty to company policy and could be more evidence of a growing individualism in China. Sometimes it’s good to swallow your tongue, or move forward with a poor paying company with room for growth rather than take a better paying dead-end job, but for the modern Chinese, eating bitterness is a tradition quickly being forgotten.
10. Nationalism Less Important
With the rise of individualism in modern China, there has been a reduction in Chinese nationalism. Not only is it visible in market shifts like Chinese investors focusing on global commodities rather than exports, but it’s also visible in a rising interest in Western goods since the 1980s. While nationalism isn’t super great, an exodus of money from China means less internal growth, and that’s got big impacts for China’s future. It’s not something modern China should ignore.
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