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These Japanese Concepts Will Change Your Life Forever

Japanese culture is the perfect blend of tradition and modernity, featuring unique values and principles. Some of the ancient concepts and philosophies that the Japanese culture lives and thrives by have stood the test of time and are believed to help in living life with grace, balance, and acceptance.
Many of these evocative Japanese principles are still relevant and can help improve a person's life. Today, we shall discuss a few concepts of Japanese culture capable of changing the way you look at everything.

1. Oubaitori: Never compare yourself to others

Japanese Philosophies, comparing
The Japanese term oubaitori means to never compare oneself to others. At some point in our lives, we’ve all heard that we shouldn’t compare our lives to others. However, we are all guilty of still doing this - whether we’re comparing our accomplishments or our looks to those of others. Constant comparisons can make us feel like we’ve let everyone down and lead us to become negative toward everything. The idea behind oubaitori is that, like flowers, everyone blossoms in their own way and at different times. Therefore, don’t judge yourself by someone else's path.

2. Wabi-sabi: Admiring imperfection

Japanese Philosophies, imperfection
Wabi-sabi invites us to embrace our imperfections and accept the natural cycle of life. According to the philosophy, nothing lasts and nothing is complete. One should accept their own flaws and those of others. In other words, find beauty in what is impermanent and imperfect. Wabi-sabi teaches us to be grateful and accepting, and it urges us to strive for excellence rather than perfection.
While wabi-sabi’s idea may seem simple, it can have a significant impact on the way you view life and your surroundings. Once you accept your imperfections and begin admiring them, you will be able to appreciate your environment more deeply and elevate your sense of well-being.

3. Mottainai: Don’t be wasteful

Japanese Philosophies, Mottainai
Mottainai means “What a waste” in Japanese, but in its full sense, the concept conveys that everything deserves respect and gratitude; so, don’t be wasteful. The philosophy states that we should learn to recognize the value in what's around us - from water to trees - and use them with gratitude instead of wastefulness. Mottainai encourages us to be grateful and intentional about our actions and be more respectful towards our environment.  

4. Gaman: Dignity during duress

Japanese Philosophies, Dignity
The Japanese term gaman loosely translates to “patience, perseverance, and tolerance." The principle represents the idea of keeping your dignity intact even in distressing times. Gaman is also seen as a way to deal with stress constructively. By focusing on patience, perseverance, and tolerance during stressful situations, you will slowly learn to build your composure under pressure, reduce anxiety levels, and improve resilience against stressors.

5. Shikata ga nai: Acceptance and letting go

Japanese Philosophies, letting go
The Japanese phrase Shikata ga nai or Sho ga nai means “it cannot be helped” or “it is what it is.” It says that some things simply aren't within our control; accept what you can’t change and move on. The philosophy is really about acceptance and is often used as a coping mechanism for stressful situations. When faced with unpleasant circumstances, it helps you understand that certain situations are beyond your control. So why bother stewing over it? Instead, focus on how to deal with the present situation constructively.

6. Omoiyari: Showing consideration for others

Japanese Philosophies, empathy
There is no equivalent word in English for omoiyari, but it is commonly translated to "empathy." The main point of the principle is to show sincere care and consideration for others. It is considered an important part of Japanese culture and involves being thoughtful and building compassion. To practice omoiyari, one must think about what it's like to walk in other people’s shoes and understand how to accommodate their needs.
While we all know it’s important to be empathetic, omoiyari teaches us to anticipate someone’s needs and provide for them in advance. In Japan, the concept is taught to children from an early age. The idea is that if everyone practices omoiyari, it will lead to better relationships for all involved.

7. Kaizen: Continuous improvement

Japanese Philosophies, Kaizen
In Japanese, kaizen means continuous improvement or change for the better. This philosophy focuses on ways to make things better in all areas of your life without ever stopping. The idea behind the concept is simple: small but continuous and positive changes can accumulate and make a big difference. The method calls for embracing the process of constant improvement, even for something that seems meaningless.

8. Omotenashi: Give without expecting a reward

Japanese Philosophies, hospitality
The concept of omotenashi is about serving or giving the best service without expecting a reward. Omotenashi is deep-rooted in Japanese culture and represents their mindset of hospitality.
The spirit of this principle has its roots in traditional Japanese tea ceremonies where the guest is at the center, and the host constantly considers them with every movement and gesture. The most important part of these ceremonies is that the host prepares the bowl of tea from their heart and serves the guest with the utmost respect.
Omotenashi is an unspoken understanding that there are no lowly tasks if they provide a great experience for a guest.
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