In this era of perpetual consumption and the pressure to constantly be ‘levelling up’, we could all take a page out of ancient Japan’s book and incorporate a little wabi-sabi in our lives. Wabi-sabi is the Japanese philosophy of appreciating the beauty in the ‘perfectly imperfect’. You’ve probably heard the word used in interior design, but its principles stretch beyond aesthetics. Not only is it super fun to say, wabi-sabi is a refreshing perspective in the age of hyper-consumerism. It focuses on the ephemeral nature of beauty, and accepting that the most beautiful moments or things are those just in their natural state of being.
While it can apply to all aspects of life, from furniture, to personal style, to landscape architecture, we’re here to talk about how having a wabi-sabi mindset can shift your perspective.
A wabi-sabi mindset emphasizes a shift away from the pursuit of perfection and towards a feeling of acceptance and appreciation. The pillars of this philosophy can help you cultivate a less shiddy lifestyle in many ways:
- Learn to accept things as they are with an open mind. Everything has beauty in it, even if it seems broken at first glance. We grow from every experience we have, so accept the bad with the good.
- Embrace vulnerability. Yes, that includes your own! Lean into what makes you human, as sharing ourselves with others and opening up can not only be cathartic, but deepen our relationships and emotional intelligence.
- Realize that everything is always changing and never complete. This is one of the core tenets of wabi-sabi, and it clashes with our society’s ideals of always striving for perfection — the perfect job, the perfect body, the perfect partner, the perfect house. Wabi-sabi says there is no such thing as perfect — the natural state of the world is imperfect and in a constant state of flux. Rather than pursuing perfection, strive to be the best you can be — or at least a little less shiddy.
- Slow down and keep it simple. If we are always rushing and feeling the pressure of time, we lose sight of what really makes us feel alive. Take some time to slow down and simply observe the world around you without judgement, and you become more in touch with yourself. In the same vein, you must declutter your space to declutter your mind. We don’t always need to be buying the next shiny new thing, as this is just another way of striving for unattainable perfection.
Wabi-sabi is an oddly-shaped, lumpy potato that’s going into a beautiful meal you’re sharing with your family, just as it is sharing a vulnerable moment with a loved one. The beauty of wabi-sabi is all around you if you shift your mindset to see it that way.
Remember, nothing and no one is perfect, just less shiddy.