By Lynnie Stein / December 26, 2022

8 Japanese Gifts to Transform Your Life

The culture of starting afresh is well-pronounced in Japan. We should view Japanese culture as a gift. It’s a country where people invest a lot of time and energy in improving their lives and bettering themselves. We can look on and take inspiration from their culture and try to incorporate some of the following Japanese principles into our own lives.

  • Your life might have been messy and bumpy.
  • It might have been coloured by mistakes, anxiety, and fear. I know mine has.
  • But all those things were catalysts to help you become a better, wiser, and more courageous version of yourself.
  • So, embrace your story and how much you’ve grown from it.
  • Be proud of what you’ve done and for wanting to create a better life for yourself.
  • Instead of blaming yourself for mistakes in the past, remind yourself that you did the best you could and that you’ve learned from it.

3 Life Truths

Truth #2 You can’t make anyone change
Truth #3 Stop being angry, people will never be who you want them to be. 

What is ikigai (ee-key-guy) and how can it change my life?

Ikigai is a Japanese concept that means your ‘reason for being.’ ‘Iki’ in Japanese means ‘life,’ and ‘gai’ describes value or worth. Your ikigai is your life purpose or your bliss.

It’s what brings you joy and inspires you to get out of bed every day.

  • Discover your purpose in life.
  • Determine the reason you wake up each morning.

Choose something that aligns with your strengths, passions, and the needs of the world.

This is what gives life meaning.

the meaning of life book cover

It’s important to mention that while traditional Japanese philosophy focuses on finding your bliss, western interpretation has used ikigai as a method of finding your dream career.

The Westernised version of ikigai says you’ve found your dream career when your career includes these four qualities:

  • What you love
  • What you’re good at
  • What you can be paid for
  • What the world needs

2. Shikata ga nai – Let go and focus on what you can change.

At its essence, shikata ga nai really means let go of what you cannot change.

Recognize there are some things out of our control…and that’s okay.

  • Taking a page from Okinawan women, when you encounter something that cannot be changed (like a disagreement with a stubborn person, or even inclement weather), don’t dwell on it.
  • Shō ga nai,” let it go, it cannot be helped.

What you can change is the power and direction of your whole life, just by changing your mindset.

1. Take a deep breath.

2. Ease up.

3. Let it go.

3. Wabi-sabi…The Elusive Beauty of Imperfection

In Japan, wabi sabi is imperceptible but everywhere: a crack on a teapot, the wood of an old door, green moss on a rock, a misty landscape, a distorted cup or the reflection of the moon on a pond.

In Japan, wabi sabi is imperceptible but everywhere

Find peace in imperfection.

Recognize nothing in life is perfect, including yourself and others.

Instead of striving for flawlessness, find joy in the imperfections.

Makes life unique.

4. When the going gets tough, the tough gaman

Gaman preserves your dignity during tough times.

Show emotional maturity and self-control, even when faced with challenges.

To be patient, resilient and understanding.

5. Oubaitori (oh-buy-toe-ree) …don’t compare yourself to others

  • If you need to compare yourself with someone, compare yourself with you.
  • What can you do to improve your life quality?
  • How can you be a better and more loving person?
  • How can you be nicer to yourself than you were yesterday?
  • You are the only person you can compare yourself with
  • We don’t grow green grass by focusing on our neighbour’s garden, we do it nurturing our own.
  • So, instead of wasting time comparing your path to someone else’s, spend it investing, creating, and caring for your own.

Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition, they somehow already know what you truly want to become

Steve Jobs

“Personality begins where comparison leaves off. Be unique. Be memorable. Be confident. Be proud.”

Shannon L. Alder
  • Comparison often leads to us “shoulding” all over ourselves.
  • Comparison is generally the fast track to unhappiness.
  • It’s a recipe for misery. All it does is keeping you focused on what you don’t like about yourself and your life
  • We say things such as, “I should have this by now” or “I should have come further.”
  • But statements like that just keep us focused on what we’re lacking.

Instead of using “should” when expressing commitments, use “want” and notice how your inner dialogue shifts.

6. Kintsugi — The art of golden repair

It is all about celebrating flaws and transforming a broken product into something remarkably more valuable.

After all, isn’t that true of love, friendship, relationships, and above all, of life itself?

  • With the passage of time, seemingly perfect relationships start developing cracks.
  • This is true of every close relationship — parents-children, best friends, loving partners — all of these relationships are stressed with the onslaught of divergent expectations, perspectives and life experiences.
  • Kintsugi is a visual reminder of how, by intentionally investing in our relationship to repair the cracks, we can create something that’s of significantly higher value and beauty than the original.
  • By letting go of unrealistic expectations and not trying to seek perfection in the other person, we discover new dimensions in the relationship and the richness of the whole, which is so much larger than the sum of each piece.

This does not mean that one party dominates over the other, neither does it mean subjugation.

True golden repair can only happen if the two broken pieces are at the same level — Kintsugi is not about layering one piece over the other but setting the pieces side-by-side in perfect alignment, joined by threads of gold.

Kintsugi reminds us long-standing relationships are truly beautiful not in spite of wear and tear, but because of them.

  • You would have come across some long-married couples who seem so perfectly compatible with one another that they don’t need to rely on words to express their thoughts.
  • If you dig deeper, you will realize that every such seemingly harmonious relationship has endured and emerged victorious against the travails of time, in embodiment of the true spirit of Kintsugi.

Look within yourself to see where you can apply Kintsugi in your life to enrich your own and other’s lives…

Because some relationships are definitely worth being cemented with gold!

7. Kaizen means improvement

Moreover, it means continuing improvement in personal life, home life, social life, and working life.

“Kaizen is everyday improvement—every day is a challenge to find a better way of doing things.

It needs tremendous self-discipline and commitment.”

– Masaaki Imai, Founder of Kaizen Institute

Always strive to improve in all areas of your life.

Small steps can add up to make a big impact over time.

Make sure love is the foundation for your choices.

To stay on track, ask yourself this powerful question,

“What would love do right now?”

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”


8. Shu-Ha-Ri

  • Am I going in the right path?
  • Is there a gap in my knowledge?
  • Did I achieve the goal I planned to achieve?

“When the student is ready the teacher will appear.

When the student is truly ready the teacher will disappear.”

Tao Te Ching
  • Shu can either mean “to protect” or “to obey.”
  • Ha is another term with an appropriate double meaning: “to break free” or “to frustrate.”
  • Ri is the stage at which the student, now a kodansha (high ranking black belt), separates from the instructor having absorbed all that he or she can learn from them.
  • This is not to say that the student and teacher are no longer associated.
  • Actually, quite the opposite should be true; they should now have a stronger bond than ever before, much as a grandparent does with their son or daughter who is now also a parent.
  • Although the student is now fully independent, he treasures the wisdom and patient counsel of the teacher and there is a richness to their relationship that comes through their shared experiences. But the student is now learning and progressing more through self-discovery than by instruction and can give outlet to his or her own creative impulses.
  • The student’s techniques will bear the imprint of his or her own personality and character.
  • Ri, too, has a dual meaning, the second part of which is “to set free” As much as the student now seeks independence from the teacher, the instructor likewise must set the student free.

So, take back your power from all the people, places, and situations where you’ve left it and bring it back home.

Decide that your energy will be used for believing, not doubting, and for creating, not destroying.

Focus on the greatest gift…you.

Focus on watering your grass and building your path.

Focus on being the best you can be and share with the rest of us.

You got this.

Talk soon. Love and bacteria,

+61 407 168 776

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