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4 Ways To Live Well, Inspired By The Japanese Art Of Kintsugi

Krysten Peck
July 6, 2018
Krysten Peck
By Krysten Peck
mbg Contributor
Krysten Peck is a freelance writer specializing in arts, wellness, brands, and visual storytelling. She received a bachelor’s degree from Dickinson College.
Photo by Juri Pozzi
July 6, 2018

Bucket list season (aka summer) is upon us, and while it's tempting to dive headfirst into a calendar of far-flung travel plans and weekend getaways, there's something to be said about taking a moment to glance back in the rearview mirror and reflect on the books and ideas that have kept us inspired thus far this year. Kintsugi Wellness by wellness writer Candice Kumai is one of those books.

In the book, which was released in April, Kumai presents kintsugi as a centuries-old art form that involves repairing broken pottery by joining together the pieces with a finishing of gold dust. The practice is a way of honoring these cracks as part of the pottery's history, rather than trying to hide them. Kumai presents the traditional art form as the Japanese embodiment of nourishing the mind, body, and spirit, and the result is an inspiring work that touches on family history, personal journey, as well as the ancient healing practices and traditions of Japan.

Needless to say, Kintsugi Wellness is a must-read for anyone looking to thrive a bit more this summer. Here, we've rounded up four lessons we learned from Kumai's book and have been thinking about since spring.

1. Celebrate imperfection, and simplify your life.

Kumai describes the Japanese term "wabi-sabi" as the process of celebrating imperfection. The philosophy stems from the Japanese notion of accepting that life comes with a great deal of uncertainty and darkness at times, so moving through both the good and bad is just a part of life. To bring more wabi-sabi into your life, Kumai suggests practicing forgiveness, opting out of the comparison game, and taking on a minimalist philosophy to cut out unnecessary purchases and material possessions from your life.

2. Nourish your body, and practice balance.

A big part of wellness is taking stock of how we fuel our bodies every day. Historically, Japanese people have been known to have the longest life expectancy rates compared to other countries, and part of that has to do with the average Japanese diet1.

While meat, rice, and seafood are integral to the food culture, the typical Japanese diet is high in carbs from plant foods, low-fat, dairy-free, and rich in soy. Wellness world favorites like green tea and fermented foods (probiotics FTW) are also staple items in Japanese cuisine.

3. Make self-care and gratitude lifelong practices.

Kumai translates the Japanese saying "ki o tsukete" into a term familiar to the wellness crowd: self-care. While the Japanese phrase is generally used in reference to caring for others, Kumai challenges readers to examine how the ways in which they treat themselves and engage with the world work in tandem for optimal well-being. The easiest way to start applying ki o tskkete to your everyday life? Cultivating and practicing gratitude, Kumai says.

4. Build and uplift your inner circle.

Science backs up the importance of friendship and community to living healthier lives, and Kumai says the same rings true in Japan. According to Kumai, there's a philosophy called yuimaru that translates to "circle of the people," and it's a pillar of Japanese culture. The heart of this philosophy? Living vulnerably, openly, and intentionally to cultivate deeper connections with those around you, Kumai says. For starters, try heading to a yoga class with a friend, joining a meet up group to experience the outdoors, or planning a Sunday potluck dinner with old friends to build existing relationships and meet new like-minded people.

Krysten Peck author page.
Krysten Peck

Krysten Peck is a freelance writer specializing in arts, wellness, brands, and visual storytelling. She received a bachelor’s degree from Dickinson College, and has done editorial and social media work at AOL, MTV News, and BuzzFeed. A city dweller with island roots, she's hooked on all-things ginger and likes to play in the kitchen. When she does exercise, she's usually chooses high-intensity activities like dancing, HIIT, and spinning.