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  • Writer's pictureJames Evangelista

A Japanese Wisdom For The Imperfect Life

We always dream of living and having a perfect life. Whether it’s about having exotic cars, living in a mansion, having a perfect family, becoming a billionaire and all other definitions of a “perfect life.” We always dream and visualize this life.

However, life is not always sunshine and rainbows. Life will hit us with problems left and right. Life will hit us with unexpected death. On the positive side, life will give us opportunities and options. The reality is that life itself is imperfect. The only perfect part in life are moments. These are the moments where we are engaged or present in what we do.

This is the problem of people nowadays. Most of us are merely present in our activities, task, and in life. We always think about the past and not live in the present. We always think about our future without doing the tasks necessary to achieve that future. Our future is a version of our present selves that haven’t arrived yet.

Our society became like this because the media and entertainment industry bombard us with advertisements, virtue signalling movies, edited photos, etc. Their messages always tell us that this is how and what a “perfect life” looks like. This results in us always aiming for perfection.

There’s an old Japanese wisdom that can help us embrace the imperfections of life. It’s called Wabi-Sabi. Wabi-Sabi is undefinable. This cannot be seen with our eyes, but it can be felt. When asking Japanese people about wabi-sabi they can’t give you the exact meaning compared to other wisdom, philosophy and way of life.

Wabi-Sabi differs from other people but the common thing about Wabi-Sabi is this:

  • Wabi-Sabi is a state of the heart.

  • Wabi-Sabi lies in the nature of life itself.

  • Wabi-Sabi is an acceptance and appreciation of the incompleteness and imperfections of our universe.

  • Wabi-Sabi is living in simplicity, slow and acceptance of nature.

  • Wabi-Sabi helps you to become your true self.

This Japanese wisdom still lives to the Japanese until today. We can see it on their way of living. Most of them are minimalists. In their Tea ceremonies, they use bamboo and ceramics not expensive metals and irons.

Origins of Wabi-Sabi:

Wabi-Sabi originated from two separate words: Wabi and Sabi.


  • is about finding beauty in simplicity and a spiritual richness and serenity in detaching from the material world.

  • Implies stillness.

  • Is a sense of contentment in the material world.

  • A mindset that appreciates humility, simplicity, acceptance


  • is about the passage of time, how age alters the physical appearance.

  • A reminder of our life cycle that includes birth and mortality.

  • Condition created by time and nature

A perfect example for the origins of Wabi-Sabi is the Japanese tea ceremony. Tea master Sen no Rikyu changed the whole culture of the tea ceremony. Back in the feudal era, the shoguns (military leaders) and daimyo (feudal lords) use tea ceremony to boast and show off their expensive wares. Rikyu however did the opposite. He replaced all expensive wares with simple bamboo wares. Rikyu reversed the culture of the tea ceremony from worshipping wealth to worshipping simplicity.

This example is a life lesson for all of us on how and where we can apply Wabi-Sabi. In life, there are things we cannot control. We must learn to let go of these extra baggage. These will only drain our precious energy. We should understand the fact that we can’t control everything. Learn to focus on what you can control.

In our materialistic desires, we must learn how to live in our own terms. Don’t buy the things that doesn’t provide value in your life. There are tons of people out there who dresses like they’re rich but they are broke. Meanwhile, there are some rich people who buy and wear simple clothing. Only buy what you need not what you want.

Applying this wonderful wisdom gives you a different perspective. Wabi-Sabi can help you see the positives in our imperfect world because chasing perfection is an unattainable goal.

*Beth Kempton’s book: Wabi-Sabi: Japanese Wisdom For A Perfectly Imperfect Life inspired this blog post. Read this book to find out more about Wabi-Sabi.

*2nd Edition of Roots is out now in Paperback and Ebook. Get your copy now!

*Millennial Thoughts is an ad-free blog. Your donations help me maintain this blog. You can donate by clicking on the Paypal Button.


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