The Secret of the Wabi-Sabi Way
I recently came across a term new to me: wabi-sabi.
Wabi-sabi is a Japanese word used to described aesthetics, and more broadly, a worldview that values the imperfect, impermanent and incomplete. Sound a little confusing? Here are some examples:
Imperfect: Just as my toddler’s artwork is far from a perfect representation of a tree or a flower, it doesn’t matter. There is a simple beauty in that imperfection.
Impermanent: Good things don’t always last, like the intricate pattern of frost left on your car window that melts away in the sun. A phenomenal color job on your hair will eventually grow out.
Incomplete: Unfinished doesn’t mean it’s not done, like the project you abandoned because you outgrew its purpose.
In his book “Wabi Sabi Simple,” author Richard R. Powell calls wabi-sabi a kind of beauty – “beauty rooted in nature and balance.” That which is rough, rustic or simple is beautiful: a worn sweater, handmade pottery, or a bunch of wildflowers. The principles of wabi-sabi can be used in any area of your life, a home, at work, and at play. In a way, it is permission to not get in knots when things don’t go as planned. How many of us are too hard on ourselves when we fall short of a goal? Not only do we embrace acceptance in our daily life with wabi-sabi, we also allow our authentic self to shine – even if we’re rough around the edges. You can practice wabi-sabi in your life in a number of ways. Here are a few ideas:
At Home – Your mother’s idea of a dinner party may have included pressed table linens, menu cards, and full place settings, but you don’t have to entertain that way. Embracing wabi-sabi can mean calling a few friends over on a whim one afternoon, throwing on a festive table cloth from the dollar store, and setting out a few bowls with chips, dips, and veggies. Play some games and enjoy the company!
At Work – In launching a business, or a new product or service within your business, “good enough” really can be good enough to bring your new offering to the world. And if something doesn’t work, that’s OK, too. Learn from it and move on. That’s wabi-sabi.
At Play – You can call upon the spirit of wabi-sabi by trying a sport you’re not good at. We’re not all Serena Williams, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a game of tennis. If you’re competitive, this may be hard(!), but it will also remind you not to be so hard on yourself when you try something new.
In recognizing the wabi-sabi in your life, you can live lighter, appreciate the beauty in the little things and let go easier when things don’t work out the way you planned.