Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Wellness Wednesday: {Cultural Identity}

Welcome back to Wellness Wednesday! For more information on the Wheel of Wellness, you can check out my wellness page, which includes every past "Wellness Wednesday" post! Remember that wellness isn't the absence of the negative, but the presence of the positive in our lives.
Remember that I'm using the Wheel of Wellness to help visualize health in life:

Alright, after today's post we'll have finally made it through all of Life Task 2 of the Wheel of Wellness. So, today we move on to the final subtask of Life Task 2: Cultural Identity!

Myers & Sweeney define this subtask the following way:

Satisfaction with one’s cultural identity, feeling supported in one’s culture, valuing relationships with people of many cultures, transcendence of cultural identity, competency to cope with stress of cultural identity

When most people start listing dimensions of wellness, this is not one that is often mentioned. However, I think it's an important component of wellness, and once again I'm happy that Myers & Sweeney have included this in the dimensions of Wellness. Myers & Sweeney say the following about cultural identity: "cultural identity incorporates racial identity, acculturation, and an appreciation for the unique aspects of one's culture and is positively related to well-being. It is a positive personal strength that enhances growth and development across the life span" (Myers & Sweeney, 2005, p. 25). Of course our views on most things in life are in some way influenced by our culture as well.

For many Caucasians, it can feel like we don't have a culture, or at least culture the way that some other groups of people experience culture. For those of you who feel that way, here's an idea of how to connect with culture:

  • Determine what countries your ancestors come from. Do a bit of research to figure out what the beliefs, habits, and holidays of those cultures are.
  • Match these values, beliefs, or habits with your own life to see what has trickled down from these cultures. 
  • Is there a way that you can incorporate your country of origin's celebrations into your life here? This can help you gain an appreciation of other cultures, all while gaining knowledge and having fun! 
Once you go looking for it, it's interesting how many things we do that come from other cultures. 

And a few questions to get you thinking:
  1. Are there things you can do to learn more about other cultures and gain an appreciation of them?
  2. How can you increase your knowledge of your own culture?
  3. What can you do to interact with people from other cultures? How can you "get outside yourself"? 
  4. Have you ever felt unappreciated or discriminated against because of your culture?
  5. If you experience stress due to your cultural identity, what steps can you take to keep yourself healthy? 
Now it's your turn:
Do you feel you have a culture? How can you increase your appreciation of both your own culture and of the cultures around you?

* Myers & Sweeney. Counseling For Wellness: Theory, Research, and Practice. (2005). 

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