A ‘Chinese cookbook for happiness and success’ is a concoction of modern Chinese cuisine recipes, Chinese culture & success psychology and a big portion of happiness. The book gives insight into happiness and success definitions, their history and research, Chinese cooking methods, recipes and guides you to become as happy and successful as you want to be – in and outside of your kitchen. Bon appetit!
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A Chinese cookbook for happiness and success
published by: epubli GmbH, Berlin, www.epubli.de
Copyright: © 2014 Nadine Koerner
How happy were you on March 20th this year?
You were very happy? Great, thank God, you don’t need to continue reading this book.
Not overtly happy for some reasons? Keep on reading.
You cannot recall any specific feelings from the 20th of March at all?
Keep on reading and please note that the United Nations has named the 20 March the International Day of Happiness!
Taking this as a reason to reflect, on 20th of March I walked along the Bijiang River in Shunde, South China. About 6.35 am, the sun rose, painting the sky from soft red, pink, orange to a warm yellow, creating a magnificent, nearly magical moment. A Chinese man with long grey beard in a white sleeveless shirt and wide grey trousers, washed or faded out, practiced Tai Chi along the river, smiling all the time. He seemed completely happy and at peace with himself and the world - like so many Chinese people I had watched when they were doing their morning exercises along the river. I smiled at him, caught his eyes, smiled and went closer. Why did he seem to be so happy, was he really so happy?
He gave me an even bigger smile. So I took all my courage and asked: “Sorry to interrupt you, but you seem to be very happy…!”
He continued moving slowly, gently, and apparently effortlessly and answered: ‘Happy? Of course I am happy!”
So I asked again: “Sorry again, why you are so happy and what actually does happiness mean to you?”
A fresh breeze came along from the river and the leaves of the palm trees along the river moved like to a fine music.
Calmly the man answered: “See, I have everything I need. Happiness is just like this: the cat has fish to eat and the dog has bones to gnaw. A dog should not hunt for the fish and the cat should not look for bones and they will always be happy.’
I nodded and replied: “Sorry again, but what is it then that we should look for?”
The man replied: ‘Well, most people look for money and other possessions, equaled with success and happiness. These are the unhappy people. If you truly want to be happy, remember that happiness and success are what you define them to be.”
Then he paused for a second, took a deep breath and continued: “as for me, it is to practice here every morning and be one with nature.’
If you were not overtly happy on March 20th or most other days of the year, it is time to pause and reflect.
It is well true that most people strive for money, career, fame, villas, and fancy cars, because they correlate those ‘things’ with success. And in their mind, once they are successful, they will be happy. Are you one of those people? Is it really like that? And what is it exactly, that makes you happy?
For most Chinese people, food is one of the keys to happiness; this is described by the philosopher and writer Lin Yutang, who lived from 1895 till 1976: “How a Chinese spirit glows over a good feast! How apt is he to cry out that life is beautiful when his stomach and his intestines are well filled! From this well filled stomach suffuses and radiates a happiness that is spiritual…” Similarly, the Taiwanese archeologist and sinologist Chang brought to attention that “Chinese people are especially preoccupied with food” and “food is at the center of, or at least it accompanies or symbolizes, many social interactions.”
Interestingly there is also a Vietnamese saying that “happiness is eating Chinese food, having a Japanese wife and living in a Western house.”
That food is directly linked to happiness in China can be noticed during Chinese New Year, when foods are eaten, which symbolise happiness and good fortune like small shrimps and fish. Besides that food has been linked to happiness and success in China for a long time already, China is also one of the few countries, where the government actively seeks measures to increase happiness levels of the people (see chapter 2.4)
Consequently there are many good reasons to learn more about Chinese cuisine and cooking.
But why do you need THIS cookbook?
For most people, cooking is an every day activity and necessity, which takes time. Most cookbooks teach you only one thing: how to cook food. THIS book teaches you how to cook and how to use the time you spend on cooking for enhancing your happiness and success at the same time! In addition, this book helps you to:
apprehend what happiness for you is and what you need to be happy - and thus promote your happiness
become conscious what success means for you and in which areas you want to be successful – and thus promote your success
find out the reasons why you are not as happy or successful as you might want to be and show solutions
cook delicious, easy and healthy Chinese recipes
release stress, as cooking is a proven ‘stress-reliever’
keeps you in the moment and shifts your attention from worries to recipes for happy and successful living
and thus enhance not only your happiness and success but your overall long-term well-being, the secret to a long and fulfilled life.
Ask a hundred people what happiness is and you get a hundred answers. Therefore one of the greatest challenges in the study of happiness lies in its definition. Happiness can be seen as a vast umbrella term that can mean different things to different people. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, happiness is defined as either good fortune in the sense of prosperity or as a state of well-being and contentment in the sense of joy or as a pleasurable or satisfying experience.
In psychology, happiness is often comprehended in three ways—as a hedonic state, a cognitive state, or a general life philosophy. Happiness then can refer to a way of thinking, such as being optimistic; a way of feeling joy, pleasure, relief, or gratitude; or simply a way of being. Most definitions in psychology include ‘a predominance of positive over negative affect’ and ‘satisfaction with life as a whole’. Other disciplines and people make a clearer distinction between the concept of happiness and the positive emotions the word describes. Happiness in that way can be simply drive reduction. It’s as if you’re driving down the highway and your stomach is growling. You see a McDonald’s drive-in, pull over and order a double cheeseburger and a McFlurry. That makes you ‘happy’. Well for a moment, the moment you are eating. But that satisfaction is fleeting—the resultant heartburn likely lasts longer than your gratification. Thus, happiness is a conscious state of mind, entrenched in the neo-cortex, the region of the brain responsible for planning, decision–making and thinking. So you eat a double cheeseburger and think, “Oh man, I feel good, I am happy now.”
When analyzing dictionary definitions of happiness from different nations, it turns out that the most frequent definition of happiness highlights good luck and favorable external conditions, as in the case of estimated 80 % of nations. However, luck didn’t factor into the modern conception of happiness in Spain, Argentina, Ecuador, India, and Kenya.
In American English, happiness means favorable internal conditions like feelings and studies show that many young Americans associate happiness with excitement, while older generations link it with comforting, peaceful emotions. For North Americans and Europeans, happiness tends to be defined in terms of personal achievement and happiness is said to correlate with self-esteem. For East Asians on the other side, happiness tends to be defined in terms of interpersonal connectedness and happiness is best predicted by how well embedded the self is in a social network.
And now the good news: no matter how one defines happiness, it is limitless. Just as someone’s bad mood can be passed on, happiness may be a collective phenomenon too. So having a happy friend, who lives within a mile of you, appears to increase the probability that you will be happy as well. Just as some diseases are contagious, happiness can be too.
Also, success, just like happiness, means different things to different people. Consequently there is no clear-cut, universal definition of success.
Some define it through quantifiable constant self-improvements over skill sets, scientific knowledge and progressive self-development. Some define it by how much money they make. Others define it by their career path and corresponding title.
From its Latin origin the word ‘success’ actually means "to advance" or "to progress" which implies that success is not "something" you get at the end, but a process that has very little to do with the end result. From this point of view success is what will improve your life as it is what moves you forward to a better experience of life.
And it is up to you what kind of experience you want out of life.
You are in the driver seat. You are the cook in the kitchen. So choose the right recipe for your own happiness and success.
For most people, happiness is just like a single sun ray, passing quickly. Sustainable happiness, however, is happiness that lasts, not only seconds, minutes, but for every day. That is what most people want. Happiness forever after… as it is so nicely superimposed in so many fairy tales. In positive psychology this is illustrated in a formula as:
The happiness set point refers to the situation when nothing extremely happy or sad happens, it is determined to some degree by our genes. According to researchers, the set points makes up 50% of our happiness, while circumstances 10% and factors under voluntary control, meaning the activities we choose to do, make up 40%. Consequently, in order to increase happiness and step towards sustainable happiness it is necessary to have some recipes to raise the set point and influence the factors under voluntary control positively, which means choosing activities which contribute to our happiness! Only 10 % of our happiness might be out of our control, so it is up to us to be happy, it is our choice! So if you want happiness to be sustainable and ‘forever after’, you have to make it to your predominant state of mind, which can be achieved by changing your overall attitude with the help of the recipes in chapter 4.
When it comes to success, most people lose sight of the real reason why they actually want to be successful. Many assume, once they get all those ‘things’, referred to as ‘status symbols’ or ‘success symbols’, like a penthouse in Manhattan, a yacht in Miami Beach and a Ferrari in their garage, they can consider themselves as successful and then they will feel happy! Well… for a short time. Until a friend has got a newer and bigger yacht and the Ferrari has got scratches making it look second-hand. Surely most of your desires will be obtainable within your lifetime but this no guarantee that you will be happy and fulfilled. Therefore it is necessary to strive for sustainable success.
What is sustainable success? Sustainable success is inexhaustible and consistent. For you to have success that is sustainable you have to develop a new mindset to focus on what you must become to attract that which you want. That means you can either obtain success or you can become it. The mindset is very different, because adopting the mentality of creating lasting success, of becoming sustainable, starts with realizing that success is a feeling! Yes, success is actually one kind of feeling. So when you are making that feeling part of who you are, especially with help of the recipes in chapter 4.3 and 4.4, you will never be without success again.
When it comes to the relationship between happiness and success, most people assume that success leads to happiness. There are quite a lot of ancient stories from Asia about happiness and success and one of them goes like this:
A woman came out of her home and saw three old men with long beards who sat before her garden. She did not know them and said:
—I don’t think I know you, but you may be hungry, so please come in and have something to eat.
—Is the man of the house there? —No, she answered, he is not yet here. -Then we cannot enter, they said.
In the evening, when the husband arrived, she told him what happened.
—Tell them that I already arrived and invite them to come in’, said her husband.
The woman came out to invite the men to enter her house and be their guests.
—We cannot enter a house the three together, answered the old men. —Why?, she wanted to know.
One of the men pointed to other of his friends and explained:
—His name is Wealth. Then pointing to the other one: —His name is Success and I am called Love. Now go in and decide with your husband which one of the three you wish to invite to your home.
The woman entered her home and told her husband what they said. The man became happy:
—How good! Le us invite Wealth, so that he enters and fills our home.
However his wife shook her head and disagreed:
—Dear, why don't we invite Success?
The couple's daughter was listening from the other corner of the house and came running:
—Wouldn't it be better to invite Love? Our home would then be full of love. —The husband nodded: Good, let’s take our daughter's advice into account, go out and invite Love to be our guest.
The wife came out and asked:
—Which one of you is Love? Please come in and be our guest.
Love stood up and started to walk towards the house. The other ones stood up and followed. Surprised the lady asked Wealth and Success:
—I invited only Love, why do you too come in?
The old men answered together:
—If you had invited Wealth or Success the other ones would have stayed outside, but since you invited Love, where he goes, we also go with him. Wherever there is love, there is also wealth and success.
The discussion about the relationship between happiness and success goes on. Most people want to be successful in life. And of course, everyone wants to be happy. When it comes to the pursuit of success and happiness, most people assume the same formula: ‘if I work hard, I will become successful, and once I become successful, then I'll be happy.’ The only problem is that research in the field of positive psychology has proven that this formula is not correct. Success does not cause happiness.
It is rather like in the story above… love is the key to wealth and success, and so is happiness.
Happy people, all those who experience a predominance of positive emotions, tend to be successful and accomplished across various areas in life. Why? Simply because an individual experiencing a positive mood and emotion is usually encountering circumstances that he or she interprets as looked-for. In these circumstances, people are most likely to expand their resources and friendships and to take the opportunity to build their repertoire of skills for future use and work actively toward achieving new goals.
Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful. ~A. Schweitzer
Happiness can be seen as a function of space and time because the way happiness has been viewed and researched over the last few thousand years was constantly changing, depending on geographical area and time period.
The psychological and philosophical pursuit of happiness began nearly 2500 years ago in China with philosophers and teachers like Confucius, Mencius and in Greece with Socrates, and Aristotle. “The happy,” said Aristotle, “are the happy few.” Aristotle distinguished between happiness and amusement, as happiness could be achieved through contemplation, but amusement not. Socrates thought of happiness as something at least partially within one’s control, especially through the education of desire as key to happiness.
For most people at most times in human history, happiness was not something that one could expect to control. It was in the hands of the gods. It was dictated by fate or fortune and controlled by the stars. Consequently ordinary people could not count on making it for themselves. Happiness, literally, was what happened to one, and so to be happy was to be lucky. Even those who were lucky commonly expected a turn for the worse. In fact, in every European language, the root of the word for happiness is some older word that meant "luck". Most often the word happiness can be derived from the Old Norse and Old English word "hap", and hap simply means "luck."
In medieval times, early Christians saw happiness as something a soul was to be rewarded with in heaven and not something attainable in the world of mortals. In the 13th century St. Thomas Aquinas shed light on the role of human effort in the process of happiness which he regarded as becoming closer to God. He stated that partial happiness could be achieved in this life via “the ‘theological virtues’ of charity, hope, and faith”.
Then in the Renaissance, the definition and concept of happiness changed again and pleasure was equaled with happiness. The life question changed from ‘how to be saved’ to ‘how to be happy’. Already in 1776, by the time the American Declaration of Independence was written, the "pursuit of happiness" was declared an undeniable right, given by the creator. This was also the period in which the English philosopher and revolutionary John Locke declared that ‘the business of man is to be happy’. And it is also the period when Thomas Jefferson observes that “The pursuit of happiness is a self-evident truth.”
The first books and articles on happiness date back to the late 1800s. But the explicit concept and study of happiness appeared only in the 1940s, when the first surveys included questions related to happiness. However, only a few scientists studied happiness and related concepts at that time.
The first comprehensive review on the scientific research on “avowed happiness”, covering research mainly from the 1930s to the mid-1960s, appeared in Warner Wilson’s book on the correlates of avowed happiness in 1967. However, this review had a limited impact on the field, despite the fact that it was published in Psychological Bulletin, one of the most prestigious journals in psychology. Most psychologists at the time still believed, that happiness was something that could not be scientifically investigated. Nevertheless, the antagonism against the scientific study of happiness decreased with the cognitive revolution of the 1960s and 1970s, and in 1966 the famous Harvard Grant Study, which tracked hundreds of Harvard’s graduates for decades, was initiated.
Several years later, in 1978, Philip Brickman and colleagues published a paper on hedonic adaptation, one of the most famous papers in the history of subjective well-being research. It reports the surprisingly small difference in self-reported happiness between paraplegics and lottery winners. Then, in 1984, Ed Diener published a wide-ranging review on subjective well-being, summarizing most practical and conceptual issues up to the early 1980s in Psychological Bulletin and finally legitimized the study of happiness in psychological science.
Since the late 1990s, positive psychology has been promoted, especially by Martin E. P. Seligman and Chris Peterson and their colleagues. Subjective well-being has been a major component of positive psychology, and the increasing visibility of positive psychology has also helped to expand the scope of subjective well-being and happiness research. “Happiness is love. Full stop”, said George Vaillant, who directed the Harvard Grant Study about the keys to happiness for more than 30 years.
In contrast to research on happiness, there are no large-scale studies on success. This might be explained by the fact that success is far more difficult to define than happiness and that there are also no long-term studies about the definition of success. The word ‘success’ originally comes from the Latin successus which means ‘advance uphill’ and ‘happy issue’ and was first used in 1537. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines ‘success’ in two ways, as result/outcome, or as favorable result, attainment of wealth, favor or eminence.
It is important to stress that happiness is not a static state and that even the happiest people do have times when they experience negative emotions. And happiness is very subjective. What makes one person happy might not make another person happy. The way one person defines happiness might not be the way another person defines happiness. This causes problems for researchers trying to measure it scientifically, since objective measuring, for example by observing behavior patterns during controlled laboratory experiments, is not really possible. Due to the fact that no appropriate and uniform definition and thermometer of happiness exists, most researchers rely on self-reports, for example various self-report questionnaires.
The number of global measures of happiness is increasing, nevertheless there are three major happiness evaluation tools currently in use: the World Values Survey (WVS), the Gallup World Poll (GWP), and the European Social Survey (ESS) which focuses on European countries. The emphases of these surveys are responses to any combination of the following questions: “How happy are you now?”, “How happy were you yesterday?” and “How happy are you with your life as a whole these days?”
The University of Michigan has collected data on the happiness in the world for more than 20 years in their World Values Surveys (WVS). The WVS measures the happiness of individuals by two different means. The first is to simply ask them how "happy" they are. The second is to ask them how "happy" they are, as well as how "satisfied" they are. The results are then combined to arrive at a measure of their "subjective well-being," a term generally considered synonymous with happiness as mentioned above. However, because of these two different ways of measuring happiness, uncertainty arises when it comes to determining which countries in the world are happiest. There is support for the validity of both measures. For example, former president of the American Psychological Association, Dr. Martin Seligman, uses the "happiness only" measure in his book Authentic Happiness. In contrast, Dr. Ron Inglehart, founding president of World Values Surveys, considers the "subjective well-being" measure a more accurate indicator of personal happiness.
According to the WVS results 2004, the world’s happiest countries were Nigeria, Mexico, Venezuela, El Salvador and Puerto Rico. When it comes to subjective well-being, results were slightly different as number one was Puerto Rico, second Mexico, third Denmark, forth Colombia and fifth Ireland. Nigeria made it to rank 19, El Salvador rank 12, Venezuela rank 13. China took rank 45, out of 79 examined countries. And according to the World Values Survey in 2007, Denmark was the planet’s happiest country.
To gauge the relative happiness of residents in 148 countries in 2012, the Gallup organization called roughly 1,000 people in each country and asked about their experiences the day before. The poll was released in December 2012 and showed that people in seven developing Latin American nations are among the most likely to report happiness and feeling positive about life. At the top of the poll were Panama and Paraguay, with 85 % of the respondents reporting positive emotions. China, the United States, Chile, Sweden and Switzerland took the 33rd place.
Looking at shorter-term bliss, Gallup also asked citizens to talk about their happiness at a specific point in time ("yesterday") rather than life as a whole. From this measurement, Ireland comes in as the happiest nation followed by Thailand, New Zealand, Canada and Iceland. The United States comes in sixth. The least happy countries based on feelings at a moment in time are Togo, Congo and Lithuania, Gallup found. When it comes to the trend of hope on economy, the Gallup barometer of Global hope and happiness showed that for the three year trend, China is the top 5 country in the world, with 32% of net hope on world economy.
At the end of 2012, a Gallup poll of 37 countries declared China to be the 10th-happiest country in the world, but in April 2012 a United Nations report put China at 70th.
The Gross National Happiness Index, proposed in 1972 by Bhutan's former king, Jigme Singye Wangchuk, has been praised and criticized. At that time most countries used the Gross Domestic Product to measure a country's economic success, which was equated with personal well-being and implied happiness. In spite of this Wangchuk thought that social and environmental factors, among others, should be measured as well. He assumed that happiness would be a goal of all people and that it should be the government's responsibility to ensure that a country's conditions are such that a person living there can attain happiness. Until 1999 Gross National Happiness (GNH) was mainly an idea that was practiced in Bhutan. In 1999 however, the Center for Bhutan studies was established and began to spread the idea internationally. In 2004, Bhutan held an international seminar on GNH and since then the use of GNH in combination with GDP to measure a nation's social and economic progress has increased internationally in recent years. However, measuring the Gross National Happiness Index is a complex process as it includes 33 indicators that come from nine different fields like health, education, living standard, community vitality and psychological well-being, which are all equally weighted.
The GNH has received a lot of criticism, for example that its indicators are relatively subjective. Critics claim that because of the subjectivity of those indicators it would be too difficult to get an accurate quantitative measurement on happiness. They also say that due to the subjectivity, governments may be able to change GNH results in a way that best suits their interests. China, like many other developed nations, ranks relatively low on the Forbes' gross national happiness (GNH) index, though its GDP is now the second largest in the world. This however is due its low scores on environmental quality and not necessarily due to psychological well-being.
Another index frequently used to measure happiness is the ‘Happy Planet Index’ (HPI), introduced in 2006, which includes 178 countries in its surveys. However, the name of this index might be misleading and the HPI actually cannot be used as a true happiness measure, as it does not understand itself as such. The HPI measures the extent to which countries deliver long, happy, sustainable lives for the people that live in them. The Index uses global data on life expectancy, experienced well-being and Ecological Footprint to calculate this. Much criticism of the index has been due to commentators falsely understanding it to be a measure of happiness, when it is in fact a measure of the ecological efficiency of supporting well-being.
As shown above, the results of happiness research and related rankings of countries into a global hierarchy of happiness are difficult to compare due to different standards of measuring and data compilation. Additionally, SWB values might change depending on the type of scales used, the order of items, the time frame of the questions, and current mood at the time of measurement and other situational factors.
Because global self-report measures may be subject to distortions, including traditional artifacts such as impression management, researchers should assess the impact of these artifacts when possible. Other problems include sampling methods and sample sizes. The World Value Survey in 2007 took for example, 1003 samples in Andorra, a country with a tiny population, but only 1959 samples in China, a country with a population of 1,35 billion people.
While many indices exist to measure happiness, there is no ‘official’ measure for success of people in different countries worldwide. This might be due to the fact, that there is no single, globally accepted definition of success and the perception of success is diverse: professional standing, educational accomplishments, athletic achievement, celebrity status, humanitarian impact, political clout, financial freedom, personal fulfillment, etc.
Few countries have a ‘national notion’ of success, one is Singapore. In Singapore, success is measured by the 5 Cs, a Singaporean acronym for the symbols of material success: car, cash, credit card, and condominium and club membership. In Hong Kong property is the measure of success and makes or breaks a person's fortune – and often happiness.
But there are many examples where it is very questionable if success can be measured in such ways:
Steve Jobs: He dropped out of college after one semester and returned soda bottles for money to buy food. Later on he got fired from a company he helped to found, but, by Forbes estimates, he was worth 8.3 billion USD at the time of his death.
Thomas Edison: He spent a total of three months in public school before being found to be ‘unsuitable for public school’. Thomas Edison was home schooled, never attended college, bounced from one job to another, often being fired.However at the time of his death in 1931 held more than 1,093 patents and had founded four companies including General Electric, which is still in existence today.
Mother Teresa: She never went to medical school, never married and never had children. At some points in her life she begged for food and yet she won a Nobel Peace Prize and established 610 Missions in 123 countries before her death in 1997.
Surprisingly or not, according to the June 2013 Monitor on Psychology, ‘Subjective well-being' measures gain international weight as measures of success!
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