Which Mind Set Do You Have â€“ Rich Or Poor?
The other day I was talking to my neighbor. She was telling me about all the stress her kids are giving her. Not bad stress, just normal mom stress. Her youngest just entered junior high school, and her oldest is a junior in high school. I don’t remember what age the middle one is, but she is somewhere in between.
They are all girls, and they are all very pretty. They get a lot of attention from the boys at school.
My neighbor is of the opinion that girls should be able to make it in the world on their own without having to rely on their looks. Here in Japan that is still kind of a not so popular idea. Many girls today are still taught from a very early age that if you were pretty and feminine you can expect to get a decent husband. Being a housewife is still a dream for many girls here.
Which is exactly why my neighbor is concerned. Her daughters are all pretty smart, they consistently do very well on standardized tests, which are pretty much the norm here. If you can’t do well on tests, it’s hard to succeed here.
Getting into a university here is much harder than the west. But once you are in, it’s fairly easy. College life here is fairly relaxed. Most people focus on getting into a good university starting around junior high school, or even sooner. Many top high schools here have strict entrance examinations. Many people consider public schools here to be substandard. If you can’t get into a good private high school, then you are going to have a second rate career, and a second rate life.
There are many who think that children getting into a good high school or university, especially one of the top universities, is nothing more than a status symbol for the parents. Many of my friends have noted that parents whose children are in good universities are very quick to point this out to their friends (whose kids are in “lesser” universities.) Of course, not everyone is like that.
Progress is bit slow here in that regard, but there still is progress. When my neighbor was in high school, most girls aspired to go to “finishing schools” for lack of a better term.
These were schools that girls from upper class families went to learn proper etiquette, and traditional Japanese customs like flower arranging and the proper wearing of a kimono. All in the hopes of attracting a potential wealthy husband.
It has been said that Japan lags behind the west by twenty years or so when it comes to things like human rights and equal opportunities. It seems that more and more couples here are facing the harsh reality that in order to raise a family, both parents have to work.
There was a “golden” time in the United States after World War II where families could easily survive on one income. That was when they made TV shows like “Leave it to Beaver,” “Father Knows Best,” “Happy Days,” and all those other shows from the fifties where dad went to work and mom was a happy homemaker. Most economists agree, and are backed by a lot of data, that that was just a temporary set of conditions that made it easy to survive on one income. Most of the time before that, and most of the time since, and likely for any foreseeable future, it’s going to take two incomes to support a family.
Not to say that situation might never happen again, but it’s better to realize that good times that are based only on a coincidental confluence of events never last. The best times are the ones you create yourself, based on a thorough understanding of the environment in which you live, and you skills to maximize that environment.
I heard an interesting quote the other day that the difference between rich people and poor people is that while poor people look for problems and excuses, rich people are always on the lookout for opportunities.
Poor people are always worried about the economy, while rich people are only concerned with their own economy that they can control. While its nice to live during times of low inflation, low interest rates, double digit yearly stock market returns, it’s never a good idea to depend on them.
Those that tend to be rich figure out a way to make things work for them regardless of the general economic conditions.
Which is why I think my neighbors daughters will be ok. Whenever I’ve spoken with them, they seem to be able to be flexible in their thinking, and focus always on their ultimate objectives, regardless of the meager expectations that society puts on them. They seem to have pretty good expectations of themselves, which no doubt, will carry them a long way.