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There is imperfection all around us; in nature, in technology, in science. But imperfection doesn’t have to be negative. Our own imperfections are what make us unique. The passage of time will take a toll on our bodies and our minds, but the crinkles around our eyes will show that we laughed a lot, and the memories we cherish will become stories for those who come after us. There is beauty in imperfection.
So why is imperfection seen as a negative? Why do we strive so much for the idealism of perfection? This is what we are going to discuss today.
Wabi-Sabi can be a hard ideal to get your head around for us Westerners. That’s because we are bombarded with glossy pictures of perfect people, perfect homes, perfect gardens and so on. Wabi-Sabi is an ancient tradition dating back centuries in Japanese culture. To understand how Wabi-Sabi works we can look at the meaning of the term. In it’s simplest form, this wonderful idea means ‘to take pleasure in the imperfect’ and takes a ‘less-is-more’ mentality. The rat race of life and of trying to find the best possessions, bodies, homes and so on just leads to anxiety, stress and often depression.
Wabi-Sabi allows for imperfections, encouraging us to look at the beauty of things in their rawest form. Human beings are all different and unique, with our own flaws and hang-ups. Accepting these things as beautiful parts of ourselves can give us a sense of completeness and serenity without the need to gain more.
Understanding that nothing is permanent and that the passing of time will change things and make them less than they were will help you to see that imperfections are in fact beautiful.
Why imperfection is in fact perfection
When you look at how nature creates things, how often do you see a less than perfectly shaped flower or tree? The animal kingdom is rife with imperfections, form ugly bugs to animals that will eat their young if they are too ill to survive. But when you put it all together, every living organism on this planet has a part to play. Animals eat the foliage, keeping it in seed and growing to feed the insect population that feed birds, that feed small carnivores and so on.
The ecosystem is a complicated and wonderful network of survival.
When it comes to us humans, being imperfect is something we have no control over. We can do our best, but there is no such thing as perfect because perfection is subjective. As human beings, we all have our own idea of what beauty is, and also what perfect is, so true perfection is non-existent. Accepting that perfection is unachievable actually makes us more rounded individuals, more likeable and more colourful as people.
When we stop searching for perfection, we become happier, when we see the beauty in the imperfection around us, we understand what it is to be alive.
How do you embrace imperfection?
- Accept the imperfection of others. This is an easier task than accepting your own imperfections so it makes sense to start here. If someone you know makes a mistake, it’s easier to help them dust themselves off and pick themselves up than it is to do the same for yourself. Pay attention to how you handle others’ imperfections. How do you respond? What do you say or do to make them feel better?
- Accept imperfections in yourself. Think about how you feel when the mistake is someone else’s. Try to ‘talk to yourself’ the same way you would or have done when someone else is making the mistake. Accept that you are a human with human flaws and that its normal for us to make mistakes sometimes. It’s not the end of the world, it’s an opportunity to learn and grow.
- Accept the imperfections of your circumstances. Life is often unfair. You may not be able to go somewhere you want to go or do something you want to do. With the current situation of a global pandemic especially, many of us are limited in our movements and interactions with others. Accept that although the situation may be imperfect, there are things you can learn from it. How important are your social interactions are to you? Have you taken friends and family for granted in the past, and now learned how important they are to you? Have you discovered a love of the outdoors due to being locked down in your home for months? This is the beauty of imperfection, it forces you to find new forms of perfect.
- Enjoy your journey. Throughout our imperfect lives, with our imperfect bodies and imperfect minds, we learn to value new things, new people and new circumstances. Enjoy the process that takes within your life. Pay attention to what you are discovering about yourself and your wold, your family and your friends.
No matter how perfect you may want things to be, the sooner you understand that it is impossible to attain perfection in anything, the sooner you will find true happiness. Stress, anxiety, unrest and depression are all that is gained from trying to find something that doesn’t exist. The never-ending desire for more, better and faster is what makes us unsettled and unhappy. Try just being at peace with what you have and see how much happier, calmer and at peace you feel in your world.
Have you found beauty in imperfection? How did it feel to get there? Let me know in the comments!