• Our Cultural Dimension

    Researchers in the field of "positive humanities" (a collaboration between positive psychology practitioners and humanities scholars) explain that cultural engagement can contribute to human flourishing through six mechanisms:

    • immersion: re-igniting senses and emotions that may have been dulled or tamped down by our daily routine; helping us detach from everyday concerns
    • acquisition & embeddedness: adopting and practicing new perspectives, habits, and skills (e.g., languages and vocabulary; map-reading, topography, and geography; cooking & cuisine; exploration of art, fashion, architecture, history, music, literature, ritual)
    • socialization: connecting with other people in deep & impactful ways; helping us understand how we fit into the world and how we want to fit into it; expanding the richness of our individuality while making us feel part of a collective; exposure to other points of view and perspectives
    • reflection: noticing and fortifying constructive habits, values, and viewpoints; recognizing and feeling inspired to improve maladaptive ones
    • expression: feeling prompted to share thoughts and emotions with others, and communicating through writing, speaking, art, music, dance, fashion, cooking, etc.
    Immersing ourselves in cultural experiences can ignite the emotion of awe, which in turn can spark positive change in the way we view the world, how we fit into it, and how we aspire to fit into it.
    In cultivating our cultural dimension, let's explore the concepts of cultural competence and cultural humility. In 2008, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing defined cultural competence as "the attitudes, knowledge, and skills necessary for providing quality care to diverse populations." As the study of cultural competence evolved though, many individuals in the health care industry expressed concerns that the term competency suggests mastery or achievement of a skill; it is presumptuous to imply or assume we can ever master another person's culture. 
    Instead, we can study and cultivate cultural humility, a term originated by Dr. Melanie Tervalon and Dr. Jann Murray-García. Cultural humility is a lifelong pursuit. Dr. Josepha Campinha-Bacote points out that we certainly can achieve interim degrees of improved competence in certain cultural skills (better listening, for example), but then we move forward and keep learning, practicing, and growing.

    Cultural Dimension Resources:

    Reflection Exercise: Engage with a community, a language, a cuisine, fashion, architecture, a film, a piece of art, a book, or a cultural ritual that is different from your everyday experience. Reflect on each of the six mechanisms:
    • Immersion
    • Acquisition & Embeddedness
    • Socialization
    • Reflection
    • Expression

    Remember, cultural humility is a lifelong pursuit. As the VIA Institute on Character emphasizes, "true humility involves an accurate self-assessment, recognition of limitations, keeping accomplishments in perspective, and forgetting of the self." Further, "[t]ruly humble people think well of themselves and have a good sense of who they are, but they are also aware of their mistakes, gaps in their knowledge, and imperfections."