Updated: Jul 25
If you take a moment to study Japanese culture, you will find centuries of lessons that have passed down, adopted, and improved. Embrace these lessons into your daily life.
This Japanese lesson is about Self-Acceptance
Everyone, like trees, will blossom in their own way.
The reason I am putting Oubaitori on this list first is because it is more important today than ever. It is an idiom that encompasses the four trees that bloom during the springtime: cherry, plum, apricot, and the peach. Each blossom comes at its own time and can metaphorically be compared to people and how we develop at our own times. Life is a rollercoaster and everyone’s ride is different as we dip, dive, twirl, spin and flip. Enjoy your ride, don’t compare your ride to others, and remember that your blossoming will be different and happen at different times compared to your peers.
Continuous Improvement Through Small Steps
This compound word brings together the Japanese words for ‘improvement’ and ‘good change’. This philosophy is crucial to growth. Whether you are trying to learn the piano, write a novel, or start a sales company, Kaizen is a foundation based on baby steps. How do you eat an elephant? Once bit at a time. Anything can add up over time and will lead to something greater through positive additions. This learning approach has a natural cyclical process structure with people boasting a 80/20 growth model. You will gain 80% when you put in the original 20%.
Get in the habit
Reflect on habit
Rejoice in habit
Repeat little-by-little/ day-by-day
Nothing is truly complete
Find beauty in this fact
This Buddhist teaching goes beyond the aesthetic properties of our surroundings and belongings and should be applied to your life. The ideal of Wabi-Sabi is to find wisdom in simplicity and flawed beauty and carry forward undaunted by this state of reality. Every goal you may set for yourself has limitations. Every pursuit does not need to come to perfect fruition. Some ideals are not attainable. This is a concept I personally struggle with because of perfectionist tendencies. Sometimes we need to step back, savor the moment/process, learn to find peace with current imperfections, and extract the good.
Enduring the Embarable through Perseverance
Dignity during duress is something that heroes seem to demonstrate. Whether it is historical figures or movie stars, there is an honorable mechanism of tenacity that is acquired during hard times. We all wish to rise to the occasion and face struggles with emotional maturity and self-control. This ideal is revered when we see it in others.
When concocting a recipe for success in your life, you must remember the Japanese Gaman recipe: Patience + Perseverance + Tolerance. Learn to recognize current stresses as an opportunity to double down on dignity by enduring the embarable and becoming antifragile.
Define your reason for existence and wake up every day knowing this purpose.
Passion is what the world needs, so you should be sharing yours with the world more. It is a shame when someone has a passion and they don’t explore their potential. I have too many friends that talk about starting something and never get around to it. To be honest, I pity them for not actualizing their potential and believe that most people are wasting away. We are all hypocritical and forget our Reason. Ikigai is a crucial reminder for self reflection.
Reflect on what your purpose for life is.
Create a list of Actionable steps to actualize.
Follow through and complete your list daily/weekly.
Smile at your fulfillment and repeat.
Shikita Ga Nai
Accept and Let Go because some things cannot be controlled.
There is something in this Japanese philosophy that reminds me of the Alcoholics Anonymous model. Though the Shikita Ga Nai principle does not focus on addiction, it is a great reminder to practice acceptance for what lies before us.
“God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,
and wisdom to know the difference.”
It is our job to recognize what is not in our control and then come to terms with this fact. This message is repeated and redundant, but try your best to remember the words of Shakita Ga Nai and you will find more joy when you can let go and then do your best.
When a Student is Ready, Teachers will Appear.
Once a Student is Truly Ready, Teachers will Disappear.
Learning and mastery are distinctly different and we often forget this. Years ago, I used to teach. A student, Quinton, was curious about playing the piano. We walked over to the chapel and I simply had him start with some foundational basics. I was not a music teacher nor a piano player. But Quinton simply needed someone to guide his approach. After facilitating his initial musical spark, I fed the embers of learning through encouragement. Once aflame, I completely backed off and left him alone. He was able to practice what I knew, and then the responsibility was placed upon his shoulders to dive deeper and begin to teach himself. Gosh darn, after a couple months this boy was mighty good and jam-sessions became a common occurrence.
Shu (守) "protect," "obey" by learning fundamentals, techniques
Ha (破) "detach," "digress" remove the self and embrace new approach
Ri (離) "leave," "separate" and natural transcendence can occur
If you haven't jumped on a plane and gone to Southeast Asia you are missing out. While living in Taiwan, I made a concerted effort to visit as many countries as I could. Each break I took a vacation and jump across the ocean to visit multiple countries and embrace their cultures. Today, many people get caught up in the single lane mindset.
One extra word: Misogi
Always Complete/Do One Thing a Year
Make it an amazing thing
Make it a memorable thing
Make it something that builds up your life for the better.
If you made it this far... MERP DERP!
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