Wabi Sabi: The Way to a Simpler Life

wabi sabi text
Image adapted from Σ64, Wikimedia Commons

I have always been fascinated with the Japanese, probably because I am not actually Japanese, but I did grow up with an amazing bunch of them – mom, sister, aunts, uncles, and cousins. I was given a fair dose of the Asian culture, so I was a little bit surprised as to why I hadn’t actually heard the term wabi sabi used before my friend mentioned it in one of our random conversations.  (To be fair, maybe they did say “wabi sabi,” and I just couldn’t understand when they spoke impossibly fast in Japanese.) I read up on the meaning and was blown away by what I learned – I finally have words to describe my intense appreciation for peculiarities and nature. But beyond just a description, wabi sabi is also a mind-set, one that I thought to be so beautiful and useful that I wanted to share it with you.

wabi sabi
Image via Carsten Ullrich, Wikimedia Commons

Wabi sabi – it might be a silly sounding phrase, but it packs some serious meaning.

“Wabi” comprises harmony, humility, peace, tranquility,  contentment, freedom, and balance. “Sabi” embraces the idea that there is beauty and comfort in the aged, the worn, and the rusted. Wabi and sabi are deep in meaning, and together as wabi sabi, they represent the Japanese appeal for an appreciation and understanding of the simple, the natural, the flawed, and the imperfect – not only can it be seen, but it can be felt within your soul. It’s the joy you get when the sun warms your face, or the beauty you see in the moss growing on the trunks of trees; it’s the feeling you get when you hear the voices of your loved ones.

I am, to an extent, wabi sabi, and you might be, too. We could all use a little more of it, though. So if you’re interested, here are a few ways that will help you get a little more wabi sabi in your life.

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wabi sabi yoga
Image via Mark Donoher, Wikimedia Commons

Wabi Sabi Yourself

Perfection isn’t always ideal. Everyone is flawed. There is beauty to be found in imperfection. When we stop judging ourselves, we’re allowed to grow and change, as we redirect ourselves into a more positive frame of mind. When we allow ourselves to see another’s imperfections without trying to change them to become what we think they should be, we are able to see them and appreciate them as they really are.

Image via Flickr/Jim Hammer
Image via Flickr/Jim Hammer

Wabi Sabi Your Home

Our homes are where we live. Being at home in our wabi sabi house means that we are surrounded by the things that we love. For me, it's Grandma’s old sewing table; it’s the crayons and paper that litter the dinner table that my kids and I built from old wood from my grandpa’s farm; it’s the hand-me-down pots and pans we cook in; it's also the trees that I can see out of my window that happens to be smudged with finger and face prints of my kids; it’s the beautiful shed antlers my husband has collected. A wabi sabi home isn’t fancy, per se, but it’s rich with meaning and simplicity.

MORE: Give Your Life an All-Around Cleanse Before Baby Arrives }

I think that when we allow ourselves to appreciate the simple, we can make wise choices for our families. Sometimes I feel like we complicate our lives by filling them with too many unrealistic expectations, impossible schedules, and too many wants. Let’s simply embrace the beauty in what we have right now, imperfections and all.

Do you find yourself craving more simplicity? Would the wabi sabi lifestyle work for you? 

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Wabi Sabi: The Way to a Simpler Life

Melanie Denney lives in the smallest of towns, with her two little darlings. She has a Bachelor's degree and happily works as a full-time mother and a freelance writer, specializing in sociology and recreation leadership. ... More

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