WABI SABI – The Art of Everyday Life

Wabi Sabi, a Japanese Philosophy, is defined as “the beauty of things imperfect, impermanent and incomplete… a beauty of things modest and humble… a beauty of things unconventional.”

An example of finding the beauty of simple ordinary things is wonderfully exemplified in the Tea Ceremony invented by Zen Buddhist priests in the 15th century. The Tea Ceremony is considered a means to achieving enlightenment and peace of mind through the simple, everyday preparation of tea.

To Sen no Rikyu, the man who brought the Way of Tea to the height of refinement in the 16th century, said the ceremony is nothing more or less than the following:

make a delicious bowl of tea
lay the charcoal so it heats the water
arrange flowers as they are in the field
in the summer, suggest coolness; in winter, warmth
do everything ahead of time
prepare for rain
give to those with whom you find yourself every consideration

“How hard can this be?” asked one of his students. Rikyu replied, “If you can master that, then you can teach me.”

Wabi Sabi to me is about embracing the perfectness of imperfection. I feel free when I accept that nothing will EVER be perfect. That includes me. Instead of feeling less than for not achieving some ideal, whether self imposed or inflicted upon us by others, we can bask in the truth that we are perfectly imperfect.

Wabi Sabi gives us license to delete the statement “I’ll be happy when…” from our vocabulary. It teaches us to practice being happy now.

Think about it. If only the special moments in life define our lives, we are effectively admitting that only 10% of life matters. There is life beyond the day you first rode a bike, your first kiss, your wedding day, your child being born, your vacations and graduations.

What about the things you do everyday, the 90% of your life? How do you approach making breakfast, commuting to work, buying groceries, coming home to your family at the end of the day?

Perhaps today we begin to embrace a Wabi Sabi attitude and begin to discover LIFE in the EVERYDAY.

There is beauty in the ordinary. Next time you take a shower, climb into bed, wake up to the alarm, walk/bike/drive to work, and even WORK, take a moment of gratitude and recognize the beauty within each act.

Then, observe what life looks like.


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