Wabi-sabi: 6 tips to embracing imperfection

Wabi-sabi represents Japanese aesthetics and a Japanese world view centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete”
— Wikipedia

It's Sunday night, which means my mind is a mix of reflection + the did-I-get-enough-done guilt. As we are all fully aware, weekends often go by faster than we would like them too (even for someone like me who enjoys going to work Monday morning!). There's usually one more thing to get done before we turn in for the night, and start the week again.

If you're like me, you've got a mental list that keeps your life organized. Unfortunately, sometimes we give these lists more importance than they deserve. 

The Japanese have a lovely concept ('wabi-sabi') that reflects the beauty of imperfection. And let's be honest, even when it's perfect, it can still feel imperfect (am I not right?!). Read on for my 6 tips for embracing imperfection:



1) Let it go.

Pretty easy right? Wrong. Being in the present moment is quite possibly the hardest and most important lesson that us humans will ever face. Every moment is a new chance to be pulled into the past or the future. As I told my husband the other night, "be here now, it's the only place that actually exists." I've found that a trigger word or phrase helps when I'm thinking about what I could have done differently/better/more, etc. My saying is "stop, let it go". Repeat as much as needed. Soon enough, it will become second nature.

2) Focus on the good.

Had a goal to clean the house? Only got the dishwasher unloaded/loaded? Guess what? You cleaned (part of) the house. That's accomplishment. So what you didn't get it all done. You got something done. And that something deserves to be recognized. 

3) Prioritize.

"What in 5 years is going to matter?" That one question alone will change the way you look at your day. Yesterday when I could have been cleaning/cooking/getting stuff done, I volunteered to take my niece and nephew for a few hours. We played shopping (a piece of my husband's middle school artwork sold for a whopping $1 million), packed a picnic, and played at the park/beach. I will never remember how much I did/didn't get done that day, but I will remember the first time I used our picnic basket, and the memories that surround it.

4) Look at your life from an outside perspective.

Sometimes when I'm feeling like a failure at life I pretend I'm looking down on my life from above. Here's what I see: a badass girl who overcame an eating disorder, quit the job she hated, went to grad school, bought a house, married her best friend, found a career she enjoys, and is in charge of an entire high school soccer program. Even if all of those areas don't look perfect at any given time, when you take a step back, those are pretty neat accomplishments. 

5) Practice gratitude. 

We've all heard this one before, but it really is key. Every night before my husband and I fall asleep, we try to tell each other 3 things we are grateful for in that moment of time. Even when we've had a crappy day and can hardly think of anything, it forces us to come up with something, anything (wine and dark chocolate definitely count). And most importantly, it reminds us of how dang lucky we really are. 

6) Be kind to yourself.

Everyone is doing the best they can with what they know at the time, including yourself. You have to forgive yourself over and over and over again (I've heard that's the secret to a lasting marriage too!). Just last week I overate frozen pizza right before bedtime, didn't workout the morning I had planned on, and made one of my players feel bad accidentally. Instead of beating myself up about those three things, I tried remembering that I was doing my best based on the circumstances (i.e. rough night at soccer, sleepy from a rough night of soccer, and the inability to keep my mouth shut sometimes). And then, see #1. 

Those are my 6 tips to embracing imperfection. Got any of your own you want to share?