I imagine that anyone who has studied Russian language or Culture has come across this phrase. I hear at least 3 times a week, "In order to speak Russian, you have to understand the Russian Mentality". I can tell you, it's true. I've never found such a psychologically driven language. I'll give you a few examples:
Sometimes in English you can form a sentence using either the past or present tense or even certain forms of the future, and still retain the same meaning. If you want to make the same point in Russian, go ahead and just use the past tense. Occasionally you can throw in the future tense, but if there is a way not to use the present tense, do it. Why? Russians do not live in the present. It's too hard to deal with.
Here are other examples of the mentality showing through the language. The most frequently used words for "to have" and "to eat" are the same. This has always struck me as quite telling.
The common word for happy also can mean lucky. Because you have to be lucky here to be happy.
This one, I think I just see, but I don't think there is any etymology to back this up: the word "work" contains the word for slave.
You know, I recently kissed a Canadian, so obviously my standards and my mind are slipping (were slipping), so you'll have to take these observations with a grain of salt, if you have any.