Cultural Influences From Abroad

They say variety is the spice of life. A variety of cultural experiences may even contribute to a longer life and cognitive sharpness. A new study links cultural activities, including exposure to other languages, as a strong influence in the way we learn, amass and assimilate new information.1


Some cultural influences may well impact longer lifespans. In Japan, which has one of the world’s oldest populations, people live with a philosophy of “ikigai.” Roughly translated, this phrase means “a reason to live,” or identifying one’s purpose in life. To discover one’s ikigai, start by answering the following questions:2


·      What do you love?

·      What are you good at?

·      What does the world need from you?

·      What can you get paid for?


This idea of living for something more spiritual than, say, a job or material possessions is also practiced by the people of Costa Rica. Ticos, as Costa Ricans are called, use the term “Pura Vida” to convey a range of greetings, from hello and goodbye to “everything’s cool.” The real value of the phrase, however, is that Pura Vida reflects the way many Ticos live: relaxed and appreciative of the simpler things in life. This attitude toward life has gained the country recognition as one of the happiest places in the world. To live “Pura Vida” means you’re thankful for what you have and do not dwell on what you lack.3


Whether finding your ikigai or living a Pura Vida lifestyle, these influences may be able to enrich an American’s retirement, even if we don’t have the means to travel extensively. Reading, watching documentaries and movies, and listening to foreign music all can help expose us to other cultures and expand our mind and thought processes. Ultimately, this may help us appreciate the lifestyle we’ve created for our retirement years. If you’d like help creating a retirement income strategy to help you pursue your retirement lifestyle goals, please call us for ideas.


In the U.S., perhaps the most influential culture is that of the Hispanic or Latino population, which the U.S. Census Bureau describes as people of “Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race.“At an estimated 54 million people, Hispanics are the largest minority in the U.S., and the Census Bureau expects that number to rise to 119 million by 2060.4 Their impact can be felt in all aspects of U.S. culture, including language, food and entertainment.


While the U.S. is influenced by other cultures, it also wields cultural power of its own. In a 2017 survey by U.S. News & World Report, the U.S. was ranked as having the third most influential culture in the world, largely due to popular contributions in music, movies and television. In first place was Italy, followed by France, with Spain and the United Kingdom rounding out the top five.5 In a separate portion of the survey that ranked overall influence, the U.S. ranked first, followed by Russia.6


Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.


1 Science Daily. Aug. 4, 2017. “Cultural activities may influence the way we think.” Accessed Oct. 17, 2017.

2 Laura Oliver. World Economic Forum. Aug. 9, 2017. “Is this Japanese concept the secret to a long, happy, meaningful life?” Accessed Oct. 17, 2017.

3 Vacations Costa Rica. 2017. “Pura Vida! Costa Rica Lifestyle. Accessed Oct. 17, 2017.

4 CNN. March 31, 2017. “Hispanics in the US Fast Facts.” Accessed Oct. 27, 2017.

5 U.S. News & World Report. 2017. “Cultural Influence.” Accessed Oct. 17, 2017.

6 U.S. News & World Report. March 7, 2017. “Most Influential Countries.” Accessed Oct. 17, 2017.



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