The Japanese hold the concept of Kintsugi about the value of imperfection and acceptance. This concept today, is taken into consideration and also introduced in psychotherapy and counselling. In this blog, I will amalgamate this concept to help you readers, consider how to develop self-acceptance and be able to embrace your flaws rather than disguise them, thus helping you accept the inevitable imperfections of life.
Art to Accept: Kintsugi and Wabi Sabi
The Kintsugi is about repairing broken ceramics with golden lacquer, enhancing the appearance of displaying the repair of the broken item rather than hiding the repair. This concept of Kintsugi is ‘used as a metaphor for the beauty of our healed woundedness as a human beings’ (Nash, 2022). I will not get into the history of the Kintsugi, but if you have the time to go and read about it, go ahead because it is very interesting especially how it was brought up and explained in its simplicity. I quoted Nash (2022), to show how this concept was used as a metaphor to compare it to our human wounds.
Furthermore, the Japanese have another concept, the Wabi Sabi where ‘Wabi’ refers to living in simplicity and ‘Sabi’ means having the ability to accept the lifecycle including the flaws. Hence, the Wabi Sabi concept values ‘the acceptance of imperfection’ (Nash, 2022). The Japanese believe that if you accept the imperfections of life and develop this skill, you live in harmony and tranquillity. The philosophy behind this is that you need to accept and be compassionate for both yourself and others, we are all vulnerable in some way or another and our flaws must be accepted, first and foremost by ourselves.
The following are 6 examples of how to cultivate a Wabi Sabi lifestyle:-
1. Declutter your space
Try to declutter your living space and put away the things that you are not using. Store them in a place for future use however, if you do not need them to recycle or get rid of them. This will help you to live in a decluttered environment conveying a sense of tranquillity and also allowing a peaceful state of mind.
2. Be intentional when decorating your home
When decorating your house be introspective and mindful. What you choose for your environment defines a lot of how you want to live your life. Also, try to choose natural materials, where possible choose natural materials over manufactured synthetic ones. This will foster a sense of connection to earth and nature. Opt for natural touches and include plants. Don’t worry about naturally imperfect items, such as; raw pottery or maybe if your stone bowl gets chipped, do not replace it with a plastic one.
3. Learn that ‘less is more’
Learn to appreciate the simplicity of having less can mean more. Like having less but comfortable space is important for your well-being. Prioritise your self-care and opt for a neutral palette with natural textures and neutral colours because this gives a sense of calmness.
4. Rest and slow down your pace
It is very important that you take care of yourself because living a hectic and busy life can cause more stress. Make sure that you have plenty of time to rest and to pace between tasks. Busyness can lead to stress which can then lead to poor mental and physical chronic health. That is something which you should not accept.
5. Eat right and practice mindfulness
It is also about eating right that nourishes your body. Choose what you eat and take time to enjoy your food. Do not see food as just fuel for your body, take time to appreciate what you are eating. The Japanese, most of them invest also in growing their vegetables, so at least take time to interconnect with your plate. Eat the right amount and do not overeat and be mindful of what you are eating. Leave time to plan meals and create ample time to share dinner/lunchtime with your loved ones.
6. Learn to appreciate life more
Although ageing might scare you however, it is something you must embrace and appreciate. The Wabi Sabi lifestyle appreciates the signs of ageing as a beauty of the passage of time. Even if life gets tough, you can learn something through that passage which will eventually give you more wisdom. When going through rough times, appreciate vulnerability which makes you human. Vulnerability is seen as courageous rather than as weakness (Brown, 2015).
If you like to read more about this concept, look for the book of Beth Kempton (2018), ‘Wabi Sabi: Japanese Wisdom for a Perfectly Imperfect Life’. This book will give you more insight into this concept and the benefits of adopting this lifestyle in your life.
If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here.
Rachel Osmond is a Family Therapist with Willingness who works with individuals, couples and families. She also has experience with children and adolescents.
Brown, B. (2015). Daring greatly: How the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent, and lead. Penguin Books.
Kempton, B. (2018). Wabi sabi: Japanese wisdom for a perfectly imperfect life. Piatkus.
Nash, J. (2022). ″The Wabi Sabi Lifestyle: How to Accept Imperfection in Life″. Positive Psychology.com. Retrieved on 27th March, 2022 from https://positivepsychology.com/wabi-sabi-lifestyle