HWM Pick: Wabi-Sabi, A Japanese Philosophy Of Perfect Imperfection That Echoes From Harlem To Harare

September 10, 2021

The pursuit of perfection has become the norm in today’s world, where chronic dissatisfaction, burnout, depression, and anxiety reign supreme. We’ve subjected ourselves to unrealistic standards and rigorously chase an ideal that’s impossible to reach.

Advertisements show us snapshots of handsome people enjoying their favorite drink dancing among a crowd of fashion models with ever-smiling faces. This uncompromising image of perfect happiness yells at us: “This is how your life should be.” And so, we try to mimic the sublimity of a lifestyle ideal.

We spend fortunes on tweaking ourselves, our lives, our environment and then flood social media with pictures and videos to show the world the exquisiteness of our lives.


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Perfection is what we need to accomplish: a perfectly symmetrical face, a perfectly sculpted body, perfect hair, skin, jawline, house, friends, family, partner, children, vacations, or in short: an existence without fault.

But this isn’t only impossible and exhausting to pursue; it’s also unnatural as far as the Japanese world view of wabi-sabi is concerned.

Wabi-sabi rejects the pursuit of perfection and embraces the reality of imperfection. The philosophy behind wabi-sabi can help us escape the hamster wheel of chasing an ideal life and teaches us to appreciate existence as it is: perfectly imperfect.

Photo credit: Source.

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