Eat Bitter Until…

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I am a huge fan of Dan Lok and the ideas that he presents about entrepreneurship, money management, and business in general. I’m SUCH a fan that I actually signed up for his newsletters – something that I try to keep out of my inbox as much as possible. Through all of the information that he gives, there is one email I received that will always stick with me.

The Chinese teach the phrase Chi Ku 吃苦 – translated to “eat bitter,” which refers to buckling down in times of hardship. It creates a mindset that reminds you to push through the hard times, as difficulty is a part of life. Getting through the struggles are what creates success. Dan Lok, as a Chinese immigrant now living in Canada, strongly agrees with this idea of propelling yourself forward, no matter what. He talks about how those who want to achieve their goals will do whatever it takes, while the “wantrepreneurs” (people who just want to be entrepreneurs without the hard work) will do as little as they can get away with and allow themselves to stop when things get tough.

I have discovered, though, that there has been more and more research done on how Chi Ku has affected the Chinese people’s perspectives in life. According to some, the Chinese have a harder time expressing emotions because they are stuck in the mindset of ‘suck it up and deal with it.’ This lack of emotional health can lead to mental and psychological issues, such as depression and anxiety. (You can find an interesting blog post on the thoughts of Iris, a Chinese-American mom, about the problem with eating bitter.)

As an American, I grew up being reminded that “shit happens and life goes on.” To me, it sounds quite similar to eating bitter. As a young adult, this phrase sunk in with me and absolutely contributed to ongoing depression issues. 

Wait…so this doesn’t get any better? It’s just always going to be awful?
So more and more BS is going to come into my life…constantly? 
What’s the point if life is just a consistent timeline of difficulty?

While I have very limited knowledge of Chinese culture (and even less of the Chinese language), I feel that the concept of “eating bitter” – and the American alternative that I was taught – seems to stop abruptly. Perhaps the potential for issues caused by this mindset is the lack of forward thinking. Nowadays, I remind myself, “Do what you have to do until you don’t.” In other words, the worst is not the end. Sometimes you just have to deal with it and get through the suck; but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Get yourself through the hard times until you can relax. Once you have the opportunity to take a breath, do so. 

This helps me push through on those rough days. Sometimes business is slow. Sometimes my kids are driving me up the wall. Sometimes I don’t have enough hands to take care of everything. That’s okay.
Keep sending emails until the work is done.
Keep the kids in line until they go to bed.
Keep doing laundry until it’s done (…whatever that looks like).
On those days – or weeks – I do whatever needs to be done until I no longer have to. Until then, I just keep on truckin’. 

For anyone who needs the reminder: eat bitter…but only until you no longer have to. Afterward, make sure you pay attention to the sweetness of life.

“Shit happens and life goes on. But more importantly, life goes on.”
– Amber Jewell

Picture of AJ Jewell

AJ Jewell

Amber "AJ" Jewell started at in 2016 as a part-time admin assistant, quickly moving to be the 'Duchess of Flow" - making sure that the office is flowing smoothing. AJ is also an award-nominated author, homeschooling parent of three, an avid reader, and a college student.
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