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Human societies have established cultures that define their way of life and the behaviors of their members. When these cultures are healthy, they encourage growth and development in individuals, families, and societies as a whole. But when they become toxic, they lead to destructive behaviors that harm others and the larger group. This article explores the different types of cultures people create and how to recognize the dangers of unhealthy culture for yourself and those around you.
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What Makes A Culture Toxic?
First, toxic cultures erode trust. Toxic cultures make every day a test of your loyalty to them. They also have an endless appetite for power and control—and a complete inability to handle dissent or constructive criticism in any form. So, how do you know if your culture is toxic? Are you constantly second-guessing yourself at work? Do you keep secrets from others? Do you find it impossible to disagree with someone in a way that isn’t hurtful or becomes public knowledge? If so, then there’s a good chance that whatever you’re experiencing isn’t normal—it’s toxic and it needs to change if people are going to stay sane and productive at work. Toxic cultures create stress and make life difficult. When employees don’t feel safe or trusted, they leave (or lash out). And no one wins when that happens.
Societies with Healthy Cultures
What makes a healthy culture? If there is no single answer, what characteristics are present in healthy cultures? In general, a culture can be healthy if it meets or provides for people’s basic needs for things like love, belonging, self-esteem and esteem from others, status and control over one’s life circumstances; feels safe; has a good balance between work and leisure time; allows open communication among members; provides meaning to life that isn’t rooted in fear of death or punishment by a higher being. Members feel they have some degree of choice about how they live their lives. They also don’t feel afraid to speak up when they disagree with something going on in their society or group. People know they will not be punished if they do so. The keyword here is chosen. A healthy culture gives its members choices but doesn’t allow those choices to become an excuse for them not to take responsibility for themselves and their actions.
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What makes a Healthy Society?
A healthy society fosters meaningful work, play that is stimulating, relationships that are supportive and personal growth that is enduring. The good life is one of engagement, not passivity. Pursuing wellness means engaging in activities that add meaning to our lives and contribute to a greater whole. This does not mean working yourself to death or ignoring your own health needs for those of others; rather it means finding a way to give back and make your time on earth count for something more than mere survival. What makes a Toxic Society?: In contrast, toxic societies encourage people to live at full throttle all of the time. They foster competition over cooperation, self-promotion over humility, and greed over generosity. In toxic societies, people feel they must prove themselves at every turn and never show weakness lest they be exploited by others who might seek to take advantage. While we may think of ourselves as an individualistic culture, we have become so competitive that we often don’t know how to help each other out anymore. It’s no wonder then that many Americans struggle with depression—they feel isolated from their communities and alone in their struggle with mental illness.
Examples of Healthy Societies across the Globe
In Western countries, it’s easy to fall into unhealthy patterns, often without even realizing it. However, people around the world manage to live healthy lives with very little technology and basic amenities by practicing cultures that value their health over other goals—and science says there’s a lot we can learn from them. For example, over ten years in Kenya researchers studied more than 18,000 subjects of different ages and both genders living in relatively poor conditions—on average, these individuals lived to be nearly 70 years old. So what’s their secret? It turns out they share many characteristics with those who live long, healthy lives in other parts of the world: they eat fresh food instead of processed foods; they get plenty of exercises; they have strong social ties, and they maintain an optimistic outlook on life. These are all things that you can incorporate into your own life no matter where you live or how much money you make.
Embracing a Healthy Lifestyle
It’s important to embrace a healthy lifestyle. A toxic culture can be deadly, whereas a healthy culture promotes longer life, reduces stress, and promotes overall happiness in your daily life. Don’t forget to ask yourself what is more important: Getting more things or having more time? Having more time for family, friends, and activities you enjoy helps reduce stress and makes you happy—which are two things that contribute to a long life! And don’t forget about physical health, too. Being physically active is one of the best ways to live a long and healthy life. If you have any questions about toxic culture versus healthy culture, don’t hesitate to reach out! We would love to help you live healthier every day.
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Understanding Human Nature
There’s a saying that people leave managers, not companies; it refers to toxic culture and its role in losing good employees. If you have an understanding of human nature, though, you can use your knowledge to create a healthy culture that makes workers want to stick around. Here are some ways toxic cultures might come into play in your workplace Over-promotion: It's easy to promote someone who is doing well, but if you're promoting them too quickly or without sufficient training, they may lose their motivation for doing well. You need to be careful about over-promoting as well as under-promoting—if there's no room for advancement at all, then why should anyone work hard? A lack of promotion opportunities also leads to resentment among those who aren't being promoted. A happy medium is necessary—and one way to get there is by promoting from within rather than relying on outside hires every time someone leaves or gets promoted out of a position. This shows your team that they can advance if they work hard enough and do well enough in their current roles.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 Ghulam Nabi Memon