Can You Eat Bitterness?


I love watching reality game shows. There are some really crazy shows with some crazy premises ("Hole in the Wall" comes to mind), but most have one thing in common: how much punishment can you endure for a prolonged period of time?

As a whole, Asian Americans have done very well in reality game shows. The most famous is Survivor winner Yul Kwon, but there are other prominent Asian American Survivors, such as Yau-Man Chan from Survivor Fiji, the most beloved competitor from the series:

"An atypical Survivor contestant, he achieved much success through his knowledge and utilization of basic physics. This was evident from the first episode. After the repeated efforts of much more muscular contestants, he was the only one able to open a box of supplies the tribe received.

"While others had used various brute force methods to open the box, Chan simply dropped it on its corner onto a rock, opening it immediately. In this way he was also able to beat younger, fitter and theoretically stronger players in challenges. While not shown on the series, he was also instrumental to the creation of fire using spectacles (something not normally possible with concave lenses)."



Currently in Survivor Gabon, professional gamer Ken Hoang is still in the running, having masterfully outwitted stronger and more athletic players.

Solitary is another reality show where contestants compete with each other by voluntarily placing themselves in solitary confinement for an indefinite length of time (days to weeks), undergoing mental and physical tests (a.k.a. torture) with little to no sleep or food. If you think Survivor is tortuous, Solitary is ten times worse.

Solitary and Solitary 2.0 were both won by Asian Americans: high school teacher Steve G. won Season 1 and photographer Phu Pham won Season 2.


So why have Asian Americans performed so well in these games of mental and physical endurance and torture? Part of the reason has to do with how Asians deal with suffering. Asians tend to tolerate suffering more and endure it longer. You don't bitch about yourself and your suffering. You don't whine about could've, should've, would've. You just deal with it and move on. You eat bitterness.

This is a good thing if your suffering leads to a desired goal, but not good if people take advantage of you and you don't punish them for it.

But with proper focus on the right kind of suffering (the kind that leads to reward), eating bitterness can be a good thing. If you want something bad enough, then you have to do a lot of hard work and deal with a lot of heartache to get what you want. So ask yourself:

Do you have what it takes to get what you want? Can you eat bitterness?


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