The Confidence Game…
I have been doing a fair bit of self-reflection lately. As I am making a long trip to India, the break and the voyage is a good time to take a step back and take in all of life’s experiences this year. One of the things that has changed about me, after moving to the US, is the fact that I seem to have bought into this cultural concept of developing a “high self-esteem” and a positive outlook in life no matter what. But…is that healthy?
Growing up as an Indian living in Singapore, I was always taught to respect my elders, and to not question them, even if they could be wrong. Studying at a local Singaporean school, I learned the importance of discipline and hard work from a very young age. If you didn’t work hard, you wouldn’t do well in the PSLE. If you didn’t do well in the PSLE, your fate in the local system could pretty much be sealed. I realize that things might have changed now – but back in 2000, this was how it was. I have seen my cousins, who grew up in India share similar values: discipline, respect for elders and hard work.
In contrast, in the US (and possibly other countries too), I have noticed a very strong emphasis placed on positive thinking. By and large, people tend to believe that if you work hard and believe in yourself, you will climb that mountain, get that dream job you always wanted, become an actress, etc. But…is that really true? I found a very interesting book on this exact subject, called “The Subtle Art of Not Giving A…” by Mark Manson. Manson digs deep into the positive thinking ideology, and explains what exactly is wrong with such thinking, and how it can lead us to a dangerous path of denial. He goes on to explain the importance of being modest, humble and accepting of our weaknesses. That, he says, is the true way to growth.
Looking back, I can definitely say that these were things that my teachers always strived to impart us with. I remember that my teachers would always say that “although she has come far, there is more that she can improve on”. We were even graded according to our effort-level. I think that was important for me to realise that I couldn’t ever be perfect in what I was doing – there was always that much more for me to work on. I guess that made me a good student, although not the most self-assured person in the room!
What are your thoughts on the culture of positive thinking? Do share your experiences with us in the comment box below.
I’m Veerangna, and I currently live in sunny California with my husband. My parents are Indians living in Singapore, and that’s where my brother and I grew up. After studying Law at King’s College London, I spent a few years working in law firms in Singapore before moving to San Jose. For fun,I am learning to play the Piano, and have recently developed an interest in hiking. My new appreciation for nature has helped me become a calmer person – I do believe in the healing power of Trees!