I’ve lived in the Midwest for my entire life, and have traveled outside of it for nearly as long. Yet, every time I’ve returned from a long trip, time spent in other countries with other cultures, I’m reminded of all of the beautiful perspectives that come out of this region of our country. In the Midwest, we’re taught different values, we have different experiences in relation to nature, our work, and the community. In all my travels, I’ve learned so many lessons that have stuck with me throughout my life. Now, I want to share a few of the lessons that I think the world can take from the Midwest.
It never hurts to have a kindness-first approach
Midwesterners tend to have a first inclination toward kindness. To us, it’s better to start with a smile, and judge later. That’s not to say we’re pollyannaish in our worldview - we know life can be incredibly difficult, some people can be bad at the core, and unfair hardships can be pressed upon people without warning. However, we (whether unintentionally or not) usually lead with compassion and hope for the best. I think if more people embraced this utterly Midwestern attitude, there would be less miscommunication and fewer unintended slights.
Everything is temporary - and cyclical
The Midwest is known as an agricultural region, and many members of each community either grew up on a farm or known someone who grew up at the crack of dawn to start their chores. Because of this, I believe that we all have an understanding that everything is temporary, yet cyclical. Like the seasons and the weather, the world is constantly shifting. However, what’s old will always become new again. As Midwesterners, we take this approach to life, going with the flow as changes occur, knowing that doors will open once again, just as they always have.
Work isn’t the only purpose of life
Midwesterners are a notoriously hard-working bunch. We’re the land of blue collar workers, who put in the hours to ensure difficult work gets done and our communities can continue to flourish. Even with that determined grit ingrained in their calloused hands, Midwesterners know how to clock out when the work day is done. Careers are not the end-all be-all for Midwesterners. Hard work is valued, but family values reign supreme, and in the Midwest, we know how to make our relationships and our community a priority. There are many places around the world that could benefit from this fresh shift in perspective.
Wherever I go, I pick up on the key aspects of the local culture that I want to embrace in my own life. In Japan, it was the intentionality with which they lived their lives, and their respect for others as well as public spaces. In Ireland, it was the jovial feeling in shopping districts and pubs alike. I think that anyone who came to the Midwest would take away the lessons above - and the world might be a little better for it.