Are we really that different? America and Japan look very different on the surface. We talk differently, we educate our young differently, and we have completely different customs. There are some obvious contrasts between the east and west hemisphere, yes, but what about this concept of happiness and wellbeing?
Through thoughtful consideration of the evidence outlined in, “What Makes Life Worth Living? How Japanese and Americans Make Sense of Their Worlds.” by Gordon Mathews it should be easy to see that the differences between the two cultures are simply superficial ones. At their core men and women of Japan and America strive for nearly the same things. The main distinction is that whether collectivist or individualistic the men involved in the study both have a sort of collectivist view towards their jobs. With the women of Japan being so similar to the women of America, in that they live for their families in some fashion or another. Gender roles in both America and Japan are very similar among men and women. The most common aspect is that the men are expected to get an education and then get a job and provide for their families. It only differs in that American men seem to look forward to time off from work, i.e. weekends and vacations.
It is interesting to note that both men interviewed had not received a diploma from a university. As for the women of Japan, they are dutiful wives, who live for their families and might be comfortable with the title of homemaker, simply because they are still viewed as truly inferior to men. Denise on the other-hand attributed her failed marriage to the fact that she was not completely sold on the conventional homemaker role that most people may have in mind. The men and women of Japan are very similar in that they conform to their societies expectations more easily than the individualistic Americans.
It is the people of Japan that I would say have a higher level of wellbeing overall. The reason is because they clearly have a better grasp on the direction of their lives and seem to be more comfortable with where they fit in the world, even with the thoughts of not knowing what to do once they retire. That could very well be a universal truth amongst all people who work for most of their adult lives, leaving a job that they have dedicated their lives to, only to stop when they hit retirement age. Still the Japanese seem to be on much firmer ground when it comes to the thought of wellbeing.
The men of the study both seem to have similar attitudes when it comes to work ethic, they both feel as if their success is tied directly to the success of their respective companies. The only difference is that Pete was quick to speak disparagingly of his old boss and the way the company was ran under his leadership. Miyamoto-san’s only complaint was about the amount of times he was asked to transfer. Miyamoto-san seems to feel it is up to him to take the transfers in stride as if he has a duty to do so. Miyamoto-san...