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Following the Japanese footsteps...

Ikigai: A reason for being

Ikigai means to define and practice your purpose in life. In other words, the reason you get up in the morning. An individual’s ikigai should be their calling, it should be something they are passionate about and good at. It should be something the world needs and if necessitated be able to provide financial rewards.

Wabi-Sabi: The beauty of imperfection

Wabi-sabi means finding beauty in what is impermanent and imperfect. In other words, it is the Zen Buddhist concept of beauty seen through appreciating the imperfections in nature in which everything is impermanent. The philosophy nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three basic tenets: nothing lasts, nothing is finished and nothing is perfect. In a personal sense, it means graciously accepting your own and others' flaws.

Shizen: Depicting naturalness with the absence of pretense or artificiality

I don’t know about you, but my favorite YouTubers and Bloggers are the ones who come across as very authentic, sharing their creativity and often ‘messy’ and imperfect lives. Remember that you don’t have to be perfect, and there’s no need to pretend to be something you’re not.

Teinei: Live Mindfully

Teinei – “politeness” in English – is among the most intriguing Japanese concepts to live mindfully – because it encompasses much more than the classic Western vision of politeness. This extended definition starts with respect. All Japanese courtesies rest on the social and cultural importance of respect. Respecting the elders, respecting superiors, respecting guests, and finally, respecting strangers. Teinei also represents a way of living mindfully – in harmony with your environment and society. In this context, littering is impolite. Treating objects without care is impolite. Dressing well is polite. Pointing your index finger at people is impolite. And we could go on.

Mottainai: Too good to waste

Mottainai translates into having full respect for the resources available, not waste these resources, and using them with a sense of gratitude. Mottainai is closely associated with the conservation practices that are recognized in the West as the three R’s – Reduce, reuse, recycle – with a fourth R added: respect. The 'respect' practice stems from the Shinto belief that objects have souls and therefore should not be discarded, from using all parts of an animal’s body for cooking, to re-purposing old possessions rather than throwing them away and salvaging fruit and vegetable peels.

Omotenashi: Hospitality

Often translated as “hospitality”, Omotenashi is the Japanese quality of being thoughtful and considerate of others so that you can anticipate their needs and adjust your actions accordingly. Small, considerate acts like offering a hot towel to customers are rooted in Omotenashi and are the reason for Japan’s world-famous level of customer service.

Kaizen: Continuous improvement

Kaizen, a combination of the Japanese characters kai, meaning “change,” and zen, meaning “good,” brings forth a simple, very common end goal for many of us: to change for the better. “Kaizen” is a word that means continuous improvement or changing for the better and is a personal and business philosophy seeking to constantly improve efficiency and effectiveness in all levels of operation. It is a method of incurring continuous improvement through gradually making small changes for the better and embracing the process.

Gaman: Dignity during duress

Gaman translates to mean “patience, perseverance and tolerance," which refers to enduring difficult situations with self-control and dignity. Gaman is a strategy of remaining resilient and patient during hard times and is characteristic of emotional maturity.

Shikata ga nai: Acceptance and letting go

Shikata ga nai or Sho ga nai means “it cannot be helped” or “it is what it is” and nothing can be done about it, but it is really about acceptance. The term refers to the concept of accepting that which we cannot change and moving on.

Wa: Embodying harmony and balance, avoiding self-assertion.

Wa refers to the natural order when members of a group are in harmony. In a country that views itself as a homogeneous society, conformity is highly prioritized in order to not upset the natural order of things. Be appreciative of what you have, and work hard without any expectation. Celebrate the little ‘wins’, like small social media milestones.

Kansha: Cultivate Sincere Gratitude

Kansha means thanks, appreciation, or gratitude. Instead of focusing on all the things that I miss rather switch gears and think about what I have to be thankful for. Choose gratitude. We can’t control what’s happening in the world but we can cultivate the power of our minds to keep us going.

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