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  • Writer's pictureThe 4th Dot

Updated: May 5

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.

Japanese Map with traditional coy fish, samurai warrior, and mother with child.

Oubaitori

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.

Japanese caligraphy is an art. Masters use ink, brushes, and special paper to create master pieces worthy of museums.

Kaizen

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

  • Improve habit

  • Repeat little-by-little/ day-by-day

Japanese City Street with people cars, advertising, store signs, and bicycles

Wabi-Sabi

Embrace Imperfection

  • Nothing lasts

  • 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.

Sumo Wrestling is a national sport with strong men and incredible competition. Referees judge matches and crowds come to watch and gamble on this incredible battle.

Gaman

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.

Traditional Japanese Architecture is found everywhere across the landscape. This is a temple structure that tourists visit and some people worship.

Ikigai

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.

  1. Reflect on what your purpose for life is.

  2. Create a list of Actionable steps to actualize.

  3. Follow through and complete your list daily/weekly.

  4. Smile at your fulfillment and repeat.

Japanese Mount Fuji is an incredible place to visit for tourism.  This black and white photo includes cherry blossoms and the nearby lake that creates amazing views.

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.

Sumo Lessons are between students and instructors. Masters provide guidance and lessons to those willing to learn the craft of sumo. Dedication is needed by those who pursue the craft of battle in the circle.

Shu-Ha-Ri

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

This is an old photograph of two Japanese ladies fishing together in a boat. They are wearing traditional clothing an hats and are fishing with a traditional technique .

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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