This ancient Japanese philosophy will be your new guide to modern life
Time to let go of the unrealistic pursuit of perfection
Jan 15, 2018
With the rise of online influencers and concepts such as “aesthetic” and personal branding, keeping up an image you present, either in real life or online, has become an issue of utmost importance to most people. And you have to admit, as rewarding as it is to see your feed in perfect order, following a color scheme, and raking in all the likes for it, it also does get tiring after a while.
This year, after the recent boom of “hygge”—a lifestyle of conscious appreciation of, and actually living in the present—a new movement is gaining popularity. One that has actually been in practice in Japan for centuries.
This philosophy, called wabi-sabi, is actually quite difficult to explain, mostly because there is no direct translation for the words. Initially, the meaning was tied to a sort of sadness and loneliness, but it eventually came to represent the acceptance and appreciation of imperfection.
Many also describe wabi-sabi as the celebration of the beauty in what’s natural, and the acceptance of what’s incomplete and impermanent.
Here’s how you can practice wabi-sabi in different aspects of your life:
Let’s be real—produce in perfect shapes and uniform colors and sizes are more appealing to buy. But they may not always be what’s the safest, most flavorful, or most sustainable. In practicing wabi-sabi in your meals, choose food that’s made in the most natural way: produce grown in your backyard or from your local farm, even if they’re in the oddest shapes.
In your regimen
Although wabi-sabi is the acceptance of imperfection, don’t take it to mean forgoing care. You can still keep your skincare products, just don’t be fixated on fitting a perfect image. Don’t erase the “blemishes” that make you, you—your freckles, for example, or that scar you got from playing a sport you’re good at. These little things add to who you are.
In your closet
Unlike other lifestyle movements that require you to throw things out if they no longer fit a certain standard (if they no longer spark joy, in the case of the Marie Kondo method, for example), or to stick to a micro-sized amount of items (minimalism), the wabi-sabi way of maintaining your closet doesn’t actually require you to do anything. If you can still use it, keep it. It’s okay if it’s faded with use, or if it needs to have a patch or two. It’s just seeing your belongings as something that still has beauty and value, and not throwing them out and replacing them with something brand new just because there’s a tiny bleach stain or hole.
Header image (cherry blossoms) and vegetables image courtesy of Unsplash. Matcha image courtesy of Pixabay.