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Embrace Your Culture Code, Who Cares What They Think

Have you ever been in a situation where you just know people are talking about you?

They look at you, whisper something to their friend and then they both start laughing.

Well, this happened to me my first night out at a restaurant in Paris.

Maybe my waiter and the host were making fun of me because I didn’t speak any French…

Maybe because I didn’t drink…

Or maybe they were making fun of the fact that I slaughtered my food like a Lion does his buffalo.

“Those Americans really are animals,” I can picture my waiter saying to the host.

I found out quickly that French life is different than American life.

Not that one is better than the other, just different.

We all live by different codes.

In his book, The Culture Code, Rapaille explains that the meaning we give to anything is based on the culture in which we were raised.

“Therefore, the Culture Code is the unconscious meaning we apply to any given thing — a car, a type of food, a relationship, even a country — via the culture in which we are raised… The reasons for this are numerous but it all comes down to the worlds in which we grew up. It is obvious to everyone that cultures are different from one another. What most people don’t realize, however, is that these differences actually lead to our processing the same information in different ways.”

I’m American, so eating quickly is ordinary for me.

So many of us are usually on the run and in a rush.

Think of how often we tell our kids to hurry and finish their food if they want to go outside and play.

Or how about how often we have to rush a meal before we go to work, the gym, have a meeting, or see a movie.

We even often partake in “breakfast on the go” to accommodate our culture.

But when we do actually take the time to eat, we eat A LOT.

Not all of us, but most of us.

You see, in America we love abundance, we love food, and it is our goal to finish everything served to us.

If you’re American, think about how many times your mom or dad told you that you better finish the food on your plate before you get up from the table.

Or how about you can’t get dessert until you finish your food.

As a kid, I vividly remember spending summers at my Grandma’s house and every evening, during dinner, she would load up my plate.

If I finished the food, she would put even more on the plate.

I would say, “Grandma, I’m full!”

“Boy you better eat this food and don’t let it go to waste, there are thousands of kids starving out there,” she’d reply.

It’s A Part Of Our Culture Code

The reason Americans treat food in the way that we do is because of our humble beginnings.

Even though we are the richest country in the world, at the reptilian level we consider ourselves poor.

We have the mentality that we have nothing and we need to work hard to achieve more.

Our relationship with food isn’t much different.

Think about a homeless man that finally finds a good meal…

He’s going to eat as much as he can at that moment because he doesn’t know when he’ll have another opportunity to eat.

It’s the same attitude that predators in the wild have when they capture their prey because they don’t know when will be the next time they’ll find prey.

At the reptilian level, uncertainty about tomorrow’s meal tells us to eat all the food before it’s gone and we aren’t taking any chances.

Well the French have a different Culture Code and they see food a bit differently.

They aren’t as in to “fast food.”

In fact, they practically invented the idea of slow food.

They purposefully take their time to cook, serve and eat.

As I mentioned, the portions they serve are noticeably smaller, too.

According to Rapaille, the French consider you vulgar if your plate or wineglass is empty at the conclusion of dinner.

That doesn’t bode well for an American that usually eats on the run, practices intermittent fasting and chooses to break his fast at dinner.

I didn’t care about the wine, I didn’t want appetizers…

All I wanted was the meal.

I wanted to eat quickly so I could get back to site seeing.

Because of my Culture Code, I saw taking my time with a meal as a waste of time rather than time to enjoy good food and good company.

Neither viewpoint is necessarily wrong, it is just different.

Culture Is Our Survival Kit

Understand that everything you do—from the decisions you make, to your likes and dislikes, to the way you dress and even the way you act—is all part of your Culture Code.

And it is this distinctness that makes you unique.

It makes you great.

There is no one else on the planet like you.

This is important to understand because often times, we judge others simply because they are different.

But when we take a step back, and understand that our differences are what make us interesting — they are what gives us our distinct personalities — it makes it easier to embrace each other and embrace ourselves.

So, embrace yourself and others.

Be open to taking the time to enjoy another person’s culture (especially when traveling to other countries).

And share your culture with others you meet along the way as well.

Open your mind to the diverse experiences this world has to offer.

In the end it will make you a better, more understanding person.

But above all, be proud of your culture.

You just wouldn’t be you without it.


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