Do you know Japan is home to the world’s longest-living people? According to reports, in 2021, the life expectancy in the country stood at over 87 years for women, and beyond 81 years for men! It’s the way of life that contributes to their longevity. Their healthy food habits are one thing. But have you heard about Japanese concepts of life that promote the idea of happy and healthy living? Well, Bollywood actor Deepika Padukone, a champion for mental health awareness, seems to be inspired by these Japanese philosophies of life for sure!
Deepika, who has battled depression herself and also runs a mental health foundation, often shares her thoughts on the subject via social media. In the recent past, she shared two such posts which indicated her interest in the ‘gehraiyaan’ or the depth of life as per the Japanese concepts of Ikagai and Kaizen.
Both these mindsets are about embracing your calling in life and working towards it every single day. Deepika Padukone shared two posts with the meaning of Ikagai and Kaizen, as explained by blogger Rudra Singh aka @cosmosbyrudra.
Check out Deepika Padukone’s post right here!
There are more such philosophies to help people blossom in life. Come, let us tell you about these Japanese concepts which can help you transform how you live.
According to Rudra Singh, it is a Japanese concept that literally translates to ‘a reason for being’. The concept urges you to discover your purpose in life, determine the reason you wake up each day, choose something that aligns with your strengths, passion and the needs of the world. It is about giving meaning to life, he explains.
The concept of Ikagai delves into the interwoven and intersecting worlds of passion, mission, profession and vocation. It further urges people to strive for a balance with what you’re good at, what you’re paid for, what the world needs and what you love, for a fulfilling life.
Rudra Singh describes Kaizen as a Japanese philosophy of continuous improvement – becoming one percent better every day. It’s a philosophy that Deepika Padukone has always followed. In a 2010 interview, the actor told me, “I expect a lot from myself… I’m extremely ambitious and I will not stop for anything or anybody… I am very rarely satisfied with what I do.” That constant self-motivated urge to outdo yourself, even by a margin, is what Kaizen is about.
The sweet-sounding Japanese concept of Wabi Sabi is about the beauty of imperfection. As explained by Rudra Singh, it is “the art of finding elegance in the imperfect and the unconventional; a celebration of the passage of time, and the wisdom that comes with age”. Wabi Sabi is actually a state of mind – a way to embrace and accept the impermanence of things, as well as to slow down, stand and stare. The purpose is to find your idea of extraordinary in the ordinary.
This is perhaps one of the most beautiful of the Japanese concepts to improve the way one thinks and lives. Oubaitori, according to Japanese journal Yamato, is an analogy based on how each of the four spring trees – cherry, plum, apricot and peach – take their own time to bloom.
The art of never comparing yourself to others is what is Oubaitori. If we practice this in everyday life – not being bogged down by the pressure of the have-nots, life living would be less stressful. Rudra Singh breaks it down by writing, “I think about how often we try to rush our own growth or compare ourselves to others. We see someone else’s success and think we should be further along in our own journey. We see someone else’s beauty and think we should look a certain way. But the truth is, we are all on our own path, and we should embrace our own unique journey.”
If there’s a phrase for the art of letting go in Japanese culture, it is Shikata ga nai. According to this term, when things go out of control, it is best to accept them as they are. This Japanese philosophy is about embracing the fact that be it the highs or lows, the unpredictability or complexity, they are a part of life. And sometimes, we’ve just got to move on rather than dwelling on the roadblocks in the journey.
While we all navigate the everyday challenges of life – of finding a balance between work and home, family and friends, heart and mind – following some of these Japanese pearls of wisdom may bring a positive change in your life. Try it!