In a world riddled with high stress levels, fast-paced living, unrealistic pursuits of perfection, and a damaging obsession with materialistic wealth, there is an ancient Japanese way of life that may be exactly what we need right now to save us from total demise.
Wabi-sabi is a beautiful philosophy that refers to a more connected way of life.
A way of life in which we are deeply connected to nature and, as a result, better connected to our truest inner selves.
Wabi-sabi is a concept that encourages us to look for the beauty in imperfection and to accept the more natural cycle of life. It reminds us that everything, including ourselves and life itself, is transient, incomplete, and imperfect. Perfection is thus impossible, and impermanence is inevitable.
The Japanese philosophy celebrates beauty in what’s natural, flaws and all. The antique bowls above are prized because of (not in spite of) their drips and cracks. What if we learned to prize the drips and cracks in our messy lives?
Appreciate the beauty of all things, especially the great beauty that hides beneath the surface of what seems to be broken.
To remove the negative stigma associated with imperfection, we must first completely reject it as being “the polar opposite” of the fictional construct that is perfection. We need to write a new storey that says, “Imperfection is not a compromise; it is the only way because imperfection is the true nature of things.”
Everything in life, including you, is in a state of flux.
Change is the only constant. Everything is transient and nothing is ever complete. And that’s why perfection doesn’t exist.
Through acceptance, you find freedom; out of acceptance, you find growth.
This thought’s core philosophy can be summed up in one word: Uketamo, which means “I accept humbly with an open heart.”
The sooner you accept everything that life throws at you, the lighter you will feel. We find our freedom through acceptance, and our path to growth emerges from acceptance.
This wabi-sabi philosophy teaching is to practise gratitude and acceptance.
It’s not about giving up. It’s about surrendering to the gravity of the situation at hand and then actively playing a role in deciding what happens next.
To be content exactly where you are with all that you already have, is to be happy.
The pursuit of happiness is a modern-day obsession. To be honest, I was a victim of this as well. I spent a large part of my adolescence chasing the next big thing: the next big job, the next big startup, the next big move to a new country. And this wave of emptiness washed over me every time I overworked myself to get where I thought I wanted to go.
The root of all unhappiness is born from being discontent with where you are and what you have. It really is as simple as that.
To be happy with what you have and where you are is to be grateful. To be content all the while working towards what you are striving for, fully trusting that you can achieve it. Through gratitude and action combined, you find happiness.
Slow and simple, is the only way to feel the joy of what it means to be alive.
The answer to those questions lies in the philosophy’s fourth teaching: Slow down and simplify your life. Otherwise, you’ll rush through it, arrive at the end and wonder, “what was the point?” This teaching is quite simple, but its immediate and long-term implications are profound.
Slowing down is what helps you become a more observant person. Which then helps you become more self-aware.
Only by doing so will you allow yourself to become more present and in tune with the world around you. Only by doing so will you immerse yourself into the fabric of this universe and appreciate it for what it is.
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All things in life, including you, are in an imperfect state of flux, so strive not for perfection, but for excellence instead.
Wabi-Sabi stems out further into many ancient arts, one of them is Kintsugi. It involves mending broken objects with gold fillings, known as golden scars.
The idea here is very easy to see: There will be countless instances in your life when you will feel broken. There are going to be events that will leave you with mental and physical scars. That doesn’t mean that you will hide in the shadow of your own sunshine. Do not dim your own light with the darkness of a cloud. Instead, let those scars be redrawn by filling them with golden goodness.
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