How to Be Less Negative When Living in China

How to Be Less Negative When Living in China
Jun 26, 2018 By Degen Hill ,

Maybe it's too hot, too cold or you've been standing in line forever and you don't understand why the bank has four windows but they've only opened one. We've all been there, and we've most likely muttered something under our breath, argued with an employee or endlessly complained to our friends over dinner. It's easy to be negative in China, but is it healthy? This article aims to make you more self-aware and ultimately help you be less negative while living in China.

Accept what you cannot change

One of the biggest headaches for foreigners living abroad stems from cultural differences, and some aspects of Chinese culture can be challenging. Culture is much more than just music and arts — it also encompasses behaviors, beliefs and social values.

For example, some foreigners accuse Chinese people of having an overdeveloped sense of entitlement, whether this stems from the extreme poverty experienced in the country's recent history or the fact that the majority of younger Chinese people are only children.

Either way, the result often manifests itself in what could be described as "selfish" behaviors. It's easy to get mad and yell at someone for pushing into the elevator before the other people exit, but is it worth it? Are people really going to change their behavior because a foreigner said something to them in their own country?

The easiest way to reduce your negativity about in China is to either accept it for what it is, or ask yourself, why does this bother me that much in the first place? When in Rome, eat spaghetti.

Find an outlet

Everyone who lives in China, including Chinese people, will at some point feel irritated, frustrated, annoyed, angry or fed up. There's a number of things we can do with these feelings, such as complain, rant, yell, lash out, argue and/or cry.

Every logical person knows that these aren't healthy solutions, so I suggest you find an outlet for dealing with your negative feelings. For some, including myself, it's physical exercise. For at least an hour a few times a week, I can shut down my brain, listen to music or a podcast and physically exert myself while releasing endorphins. Working out for me is like pushing a reset button, helping to dispel all feelings of stress and negativity.

Maybe yoga is more your thing, or you could take a walk in the park, listen to your favourite song full blast or take up knitting. It certainly beats the binge drinking many of us are tempted to turn to as a release.

Once you've found your outlet, which can otherwise be consider a hobby or a habit, it's important to be consistent with it. If you do something regularly that relaxes you, not just when you feel negative, your feelings of negativity won't be as great in the first place.

China is a choice

Most foreigners (more likely men) have probably had the phrase "Get out of China and go home" shouted at them after complaining about some aspect of life here. Maybe it's time you considered it. At the end of the day, it pays to remember that living in China is a choice.

If you find yourself constantly complaining and focusing on the negative aspects of life in China, maybe it's time to ask yourself why you're still here? Sure, everywhere you go will have bad things about it, but if you're that unhappy in China, try somewhere else. We have one life to live, and constantly being negative isn't doing anyone any favours.

Look within

Often times, "China" is a metaphorical punching bag for other issues in our lives. If people not lining up for the subway bothers you so much that you're getting angry and constantly talking about it, perhaps there's more going on inside than meets the eye.

Learning to be more self-aware about your life, relationships and work is an important step to achieving positive mental health. Taking time to reflect on your day, week, month, interactions, job and progress may help you realise that China isn't the reason you're being so negative after all.

Too often we project our negativity on people or things that aren't the cause of it in the first place. So next time you find yourself irritated by someone spitting right next to you, stop and ask: "Is this thing truly what ruined my day or am I having trouble paying off my student loans and I'm feeling more stressed than usual?"

China can be a challenging place to live, as the language, food, culture and general behavior of its people is very alien to most foreigners. However, being constantly negative when living in China will make your life no easier. Is that how you want to remember your time here? Definitely not.

Make the most of your opportunities and remember that negativity is a choice, so choose to move past it and be cheerful.

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Keywords: living in China


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debunking this as follows. 1. accept what you cannot change: the problem is that since the 2008 Olympics China HAS kept on changing with laws and procedures that have made it harder for outsiders to either come to China or remain in it. Therefore, by moving the goalposts (i.e. making it up as they go along), it is not possible to "accept" without some degree of frustration or even trepidation. 2.Find an outlet: not easy when most of the society appears to be xenophobic based on a very deep rooted ideal being 'this is China'. 3. China is a choice. True. But other countries who welcome in Chinese do not usually make them feel unwelcome such as the '100 day visa crackdown' that occurred a few years ago. If it was the same in Western countries doing that kind of stuff then far less people would probably feel less unfairly treated. China is a choice - yes agree but people shouldn't have to kiss the asses of people in any country they go to just to feel welcome there. 4. Look within. Still even today there is a lot of racism. Recently I travelled to another country. Even in the airport line to check in some guy in his 20s (classic fenqing) referred to me as a laowai to his girlfriend. Behaviour like that would not be accepted in most western countries and is offensive. Furthermore in the country I went to I used my skill of Chinese to turn the tables a little bit and the people reacted in the same way I did in Pudong airport - offended. So that means they understand the notion. Finally returning to Pudong was highly racist. The "Foreigner Fingerprint Control Center" being a shocking example. Articles like this that try to make out foreigners in China are spoilt little kids who cannot take cultural differences are just a load of rubbish. There is kind of a code in the world where people know what to do, how to act and how not to treat other people. China thinks it is different to everybody else and that is what causes the feelings this article is trying to persuade people to believe.

Aug 17, 2018 14:37 Report Abuse



Excellent article! After one year here (and renewing for another), the truism that culturally-caused-crank is a choice is both helpful and humorous! :)

Aug 07, 2018 19:33 Report Abuse