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Fear of the Unknown: 10 Surprising (And Exotic) Superstitions Around The World

Fear of the Unknown: 10 Surprising (And Exotic) Superstitions Around The World

Most people make mountains out of mole hills about superstitions. With minds like a steel trap, we give in to various (sometimes unfounded) superstitions, for no logical reason. The human psyche is a powerful cauldron of experiences, emotions, and forces. Some of those forces in our psyche lead us to happiness, fortune, and to see the sunnier side of things. Like opposite ends of the same coin, some of those forces are out of our control, and sometimes devastating.

Let’s take a look at 10 exciting, exotic, and surprising superstitions from some countries around the globe!

1. The Classic Ladder

Some superstitions, like walking under a ladder, are right on the nose. In my younger, defiant days, I did just that. I was proud as punch and willing to put ages of superstitious “hokum” to rest.

After I ventured the “danger” of walking under that ladder, readily laughing my way to the bank, a man bumped into me. He apologized profusely and groaned about how clumsy he was. I didn’t even realize, until hours later, that he nicked my wallet.

Some say that the two sides of a ladder form a triangle. Triangles are a sign of the Holy Trinity. Makes sense, right? Don’t walk under ladders or you’ll disrupt God, The Father, and The Holy Ghost.

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2. “Eat Your Carrots So You Can See Better!”

Mothers adore this old wives’ tale to get their children to eat carrots. It comes from the World War II era.

It turns out that this superstition was started in World War II. British pilots didn’t want people to find out they were using radars to shoot down enemies. Pilots told the public they were eating a massive amount of carrots. Imagine that! Figuring out that you can save your country from doom by eating carrots!

Knowing that there’s more than meets the eye, we’re going to look at the lion’s share of these beliefs that span many countries on our expansive and beautiful Earth.

3. “Who-Who” Is That!

In Egypt, it’s said whoever sees or hears an owl will get bad luck. What kind of bad luck? That’s hard to say.

What’s even more interesting than this sad omen is Egypt’s thoughts about scissors!

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4. Scissors

Some say it’s bad luck to open scissors (and close them) without using them for their cutting purpose. I can see that preventing people from using something other than it’s supposed to be used is a good idea, can’t you? Especially, if that “something” is sharp.

Let’s see what other countries are up to!

5. “Suffocation, No Breathing”

If you’re susceptible to sweating during nights, and need the soothing comforts of a whirring fan just to fall asleep, then you’ll want to stay away from Korea (especially North Korea). It’s said that sleeping with a fan on, suffocates you.

6. Happy New Years!

The next time you want to have an extraordinarily lucky, vibrant, and happy New Years, go to Spain and perform the superstitious tradition of eating 12 grapes at midnight.

If you’re the type to eat food at night, be sure and stay away from Turkey…

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7. …Or You’ll Eat Flesh

In Turkey, it’s said that eating bubble gum after dark, turns that gum into dead flesh – human flesh. If you don’t mind being a cannibal, by all means: eat! Chew! Milk that gum for all its worth! That is to say, if you don’t mind offending (and terrifying) thousands of Turks.

8. Graveyards

Graveyards are where the dead (Lord rest their souls) sleep peacefully. Everyone who’s anyone has someone they love in a graveyard. Thankfully, we also have friends and family still in our lives.

In Japan, when you walk past a graveyard, you’d better tuck your thumbs into your fist, otherwise your parents may meet an unfortunate end years sooner than they were supposed to.

9. Break Your Mother’s Back

This one dates back all the way to the late 19th century. Hoo boy! Sadly, this one’s a bit racist. The original phrase was, “Don’t step on a crack or you’ll turn black.” Its origin was a sign of unfortunate times.

10. Do You Fear The Devil?

Be careful when you venture through Portugal. Some say walking backwards will directly show the devil your path, leading him right towards you.

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Do Superstitions Bring Us Together?

This list is just the tip of the iceberg. However we feel about superstitions, whether they’re silly wives’ tales, or grounded in reality and (in all seriousness) making a lot of sense, there’s no denying that every single person, on every single country in our massive world, is affected by superstitions. The same things we fear or love today, are possibly the same “life lessons” our ancestors lived by thousands of years ago.

If superstitions are one of the few remaining links we have to our ancestry, then what’s the harm in believing something, no matter how “outrageous” or head-turning it is, to be connected to our past? A belief is a belief, and no one can undermine someone’s deeply-held belief.

Now, I’m going to go to Russia, where it’s believed that if a bird drops a “gift” on you, your car, or your property, you’re on your path to riches.

Featured photo credit: Superstitions, via prezi.com

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Last Updated on July 23, 2019

5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

In the journey of growth, there are times when we grow and excel. We are endlessly driven and hyped up, motivated to get our goals.

Then there are times when we stagnate. We feel uninspired and unmotivated. We keep procrastinating on our plans. More often than not, we get out of a rut, only to get back into another one.

How do you know if you are stagnating? Here are some tell-tale signs:

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  • If you have been experiencing chronic procrastination on your goals
  • If you don’t ever feel like doing anything
  • If you keep turning to sleep, eating, games, mindless activities and entertainment for comfort
  • If you know you should be doing something, but yet you keep avoiding it
  • If you have not achieved anything new or significant now relative to 1 month, 2 months or 3 months ago
  • If you have a deep sense of feeling that you are living under your potential

When we face stagnation in life, it’s a sign of deeper issues. Stagnation, just like procrastination, is a symptom of a problem. It’s easy to beat ourselves over it, but this approach is not going to help. Here, I will share 5 steps to help you move out of this stagnation. They won’t magically transform your life in 1 night (such changes are never permanent because the foundations are not built), but they will help you get the momentum going and help you get back on track.

1. Realize You’re Not Alone

Everyone stagnates at some point or another. You are not alone in this and more importantly, it’s normal. In fact, it’s amazing how many of my clients actually face the same predicament, even though all of them come from different walks of life, are of different ages, and have never crossed paths. Realizing you are not alone in this will make it much easier to deal with this period. By trying to “fight it”, you’re only fighting yourself. Accept this situation, acknowledge it, and tell yourself it’s okay. That way, you can then focus on the constructive steps that will really help you.

2. Find What Inspires You

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Stagnation comes because there isn’t anything that excites you enough to take action. If you don’t have a habit of setting goals, and instead just leave yourself to daily mundanes, it’s not surprising you are experiencing stagnation. What do you want to do if there are no limitations? If you can have whatever you want, what will it be? The answers to these questions will provide the fuel that will drive you forward.

On the other hand, even if you are an experienced goal setter, there are times when the goals you set in the past lose their appeal now. It’s normal and it happens to me too. Sometimes we lose touch with our goals, since we are in a different emotional state compared to when we first set them. Sometimes our priorities change and we no longer want to work on those goals anymore. However, we don’t consciously realize this, and what happens is we procrastinate on our goals until it compounds into a serious problem. If that’s the case for you, it’s time to relook into your goals. There’s no point in pursuing goals that no longer inspire you. Trash away your old goals (or just put them aside) and ask yourself what you really want now. Then go for them.

3. Give Yourself a Break

When’s the last time you took a real break for yourself? 3 months? 6 months? 1 year? Never? Perhaps it’s time to take a time-out. Prolonged working can cause someone to become disillusioned as they lose sight of who they are and what they want.

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Go take some extended leave from work. A few days at bare minimum; a few weeks or months will be great. Some of my ex-colleagues have quit their jobs and took months out to do some self-reflection. Of course, some of us might not have that luxury, so we can stick to a few weeks of leave. Go on a trip elsewhere and get away from your work and your life. Use this chance to get a renewed perspective of life. Think about your life purpose, what you want and what you want to create for your life in the future. These are big questions that require deep thinking over them. It’s not about finding the answers at one go, but about taking the first step to finding the answers.

4. Shake up Your Routines

Being in the same environment, doing the same things over and over again and meeting the same people can make us stagnant. This is especially if the people you spend the most time with are stagnant themselves.

Change things around. Start with simple things, like taking a different route to work and eating something different for breakfast. Have your lunch with different colleagues, colleagues you never talked much with. Work in a different cubicle if your work has free and easy seating. Do something different than your usual for weekday evenings and weekends. Cultivate different habits, like exercising every day, listening to a new series of podcasts every morning to work, reading a book, etc (here’s 6 Proven Ways To Make New Habits Stick). The different contexts will give you different stimulus, which will trigger off different thoughts and actions in you.

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When I’m in a state of stagnancy, I’ll get a sense of what’s making me stagnate. Sometimes it’s the environment I’m in, sometimes it’s the people I’ve been hanging out with, sometimes it’s my lifestyle. Most of the times it’s a combination of all these. Changing them up helps to stir myself out of the stagnant mode.

5. Start with a Small Step

Stagnation also comes from being frozen in fear. Maybe you do want this certain goal, but you aren’t taking action. Are you overwhelmed by the amount of work needed? Are you afraid you will make mistakes? Is the perfectionist in you taking over and paralyzing you?

Let go of the belief that it has to be perfect. Such a belief is a bane, not a boon. It’s precisely from being open to mistakes and errors that you move forward. Break down what’s before you into very very small steps, then take those small steps, a little step at a time. I had a client who had been stagnating for a long period because he was afraid of failing. He didn’t want to make another move where he would make a mistake. However, not wanting to make a mistake has led him to do absolutely nothing for 2-3 years. On the other hand, by doing just something, you would already be making progress, whether it’s a mistake or not. Even if you make a supposed “mistake”,  you get feedback to do things differently in the next step. That’s something you would never have known if you never made a move.

More to Help You Stay Motivated

Here are some resources that will help you break out of your current phase:

Featured photo credit: Anubhav Saxena via unsplash.com

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