7 Japanese Concepts of Life That Can Change How You Live!

Last Update on August 6, 2023 : Published on August 7, 2023
popular Japanese Concepts to live life

The last few years have taught us a lot about how important it is to live in the present, not waste time on things that are out of our control, embrace small changes, and more. But more so, they have taught us how important it is to embrace oneself as it is. In my quest for self-discovery, I stumbled upon Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life, and to my surprise, I found some amazing secrets and insights that I still apply to this day.

As someone who grew up on Eastern philosophies and culture, I’ve always embraced the nitty gritty that comes with it. In one of my previous articles, I talked about how the Chinese philosophy of Yin and Yang can influence our well-being, but today I’m exploring the Japanese concepts that have proven time and again to help transform the lives of many around the world.

Japan is a country known for its rich cultural heritage and more importantly, its unique (and long!) way of life. Beyond the advancements Japan has made regarding technology, there’s a lot of hidden psychological treasure and wisdom that we haven’t even scratched the surface of.

So, today, let’s look at the 7 Japanese concepts of life that, once you adopt them, can transform your life and improve how you view the world.

7 Japanese Concepts of Life to Live Well

  • 1. Ikigai (生き甲斐)
  • 2. Wabi-Sabi (侘寂)
  • 3. Shinrin-Yoku (森林浴)
  • 4. Kaizen (改善)
  • 5. Mono no Aware (物の哀れ)
  • 6. Omoiyari (思いやり)
  • 7. Gambatte (頑張って)

7 Japanese Concepts of Life to Live Well

1. Ikigai (生き甲斐)


Ikigai meaning “the reason for being” is one of the most powerful Japanese concepts. This Japanese philosophy of life revolves around finding your life’s purpose and meaning. It often involves the interconnectedness of four elements;

  • What you love,
  • What you’re good at,
  • What the world around you needs, and
  • What you can do to earn your living.

Discovering your Ikigai can be wonderful for your mental well-being and overall health as it allows you to live a fulfilling and balanced life where you engage in activities that not only bring you joy and meaning but also allow you to contribute to the world and bring a sense of contentment.

How to incorporate Ikigai into your life?

To live your life with Ikigai, you can;

  • Reflect on your passions, interests, abilities, and values – especially what brings you the most joy. Once you have identified the activities that align with these elements, then you can move forward with purpose.
  • Set meaningful and realistic goals that allow you to work on your well-being as well as on that of others around you.
  • Seek new opportunities that you can use to pursue your talents. Even if it means starting small or from the beginning, do it. Making small changes can help change your current lifestyle and bring you closer to living a happy life.

2. Wabi-Sabi (侘寂)


Another Japanese concept of life that has been deeply ingrained in Japanese culture is Wabi-Sabi. Wabi-Sabi means embracing imperfections and impermanence. It urges you to find beauty and love in growth and celebrate the uniqueness of everything life has to offer.

When you apply the concept of Wabi-Sabi in your life, you learn to appreciate small things, cherish your present moment, and let go of the vicious trap of perfectionism. When it comes to your mental health and well-being, embracing Wabi-Sabi can mean peace and acceptance.

How to incorporate Wabi-Sabi into your life?

To live your life the “Wabi-Sabi Way”, you can;

  • Embrace imperfections in your life – in yourself, others, and the world around you. Learn to accept and appreciate the beauty of uniqueness and imperfection.
  • Add simple but natural elements to your living space. You can add handmade ceramic or pottery items or wooden furniture.
  • Practice mindfulness daily to learn how to live and embrace the present moment, letting go of intrusive thoughts and perfectionism.

3. Shinrin-Yoku (森林浴)


Forest bathing is another Japanese concept of life that you should adopt in your life. Shinrin-Yoku is the practice of immersing yourself in nature while mindfully observing and experiencing the sights, sounds, and smells of nature around you.

Scientifically speaking, various studies have shown that spending time outdoors can reduce stress, improve your mood, and boost your overall well-being. In the end, embracing the concept of Forest bathing can fill you with a sense of tranquility and connection with nature.

How to incorporate Shinrin-Yoku into your life?

To embrace Shinrin-Yoku in your life, you can do this;

  • Make time every day to connect with nature. You can do this by going to parks, forests, and beaches near you to immerse yourself in nature.
  • You can also try to engage your senses when you’re spending time outdoors. Notice the smells, sights, sounds, and textures around you.
  • You can also try mindful walking or meditation amid nature to deepen and strengthen your connection with nature and the environment.

4. Kaizen (改善)


Kaizen or Continuous Development is another Japanese concept to live by. This philosophy means making small changes in various aspects of your life with the intention that these small changes and improvements will lead to significant changes in your overall growth and ultimately, life.

When you adopt a Kaizen mindset, you encourage yourself to constant self-improvement and growth, inspiring yourself to overcome life’s challenges, and finally, to achieve long-term success in the different areas of your life.

How to incorporate Kaizen into your life?

To adopt a Kaizen mindset, you can try this;

  • Identify the areas of your life where you feel like you can benefit from small changes. It could be your physical health, mental well-being, relationships, and even professional life.
  • Break down your big goals and aspirations into smaller, more manageable tasks, and keep working on them regularly.
  • Keep a journal to track your progress and when you’re at it, don’t forget to celebrate your small changes and wins!

5. Mono no Aware (物の哀れ)

Mono no Aware

Another Japanese life concept to live by is Mono no Aware, meaning “the beauty of impermanence”. This Japanese concept of life teaches us that nothing in this world is permanent and to appreciate the fleeting nature of life. It urges us to empathize with the temporariness of things.

Mono no Aware says that when you acknowledge the impermanence of life and embrace the feelings and emotions that come with it, you become more compassionate, self-aware, and grateful for each moment of your life.

Sounds so peaceful, doesn’t it?

How to incorporate Mono no Aware into your life?

To accept and embrace Mono no Aware in your life, here’s what you can do;

  • Practice gratitude every day – for your life experiences, relationships, and even material things in your life.
  • Become more present in each moment of your life. Savor the little joys and acknowledge the challenges with the brevity they need.
  • Accept the temporariness of life and allow yourself to experience the emotions that come with this experience. Teach yourself that impermanence is a natural process and part of life and that it’s OK to embrace it.

6. Omoiyari (思いやり)


Omoiyari, meaning “having empathy and compassion towards others”, is also a Japanese life concept that can change your life for the better. This philosophy emphasizes the importance of understanding and considering the feelings of others as well as the perspectives of those around us.

When you live your life with Omoiyari in mind, you foster stronger connections with people around you, build harmonious social relationships, and contribute to a compassionate and caring world.

How to incorporate Omoiyari into your life?

To incorporate Omoiyari into your life, you can do these things;

  • Work on your active listening skills to better understand others’ feelings, emotions, thoughts, and perspectives.
  • Show empathy to people in need. You can do this by doing random acts of kindness, offering help to those in need, or just being there for a loved one.
  • Practicing self-compassion and being kind to yourself as you would be to others around you.

7. Gambatte (頑張って)


Lastly, the Japanese concept of life that literally translates to “do your best” is Gambatte. This concept can also be used as a phrase to encourage and support others, especially when someone is going through a difficult time. This Japanese concept is there to remind us to be resilient and determined even though everything might be going against us.

Living your life following the concept of Gambatte can help you overcome various life challenges, maintain a growth mindset throughout your difficult times, and encourage you to keep going until you reach your goals.

How to incorporate Gambatte into your life?

To embrace a Gambatte mindset, you can try to;

  • Embrace a growth mindset where you see challenges as opportunities for learning and not mistakes or failures.
  • Remind yourself to “keep doing your best” or “keep going”. This affirmation can help you create a mindset that helps you persevere through difficult times.
  • Offer encouragement to others around you and motivate them to do their best or “Gambatte!” in their goals and endeavors. Encouraging others can help fill you with positivity as well.

Wrapping Up…

Embracing these 7 Japanese concepts of life can transform your life and lead you to feel a sense of purpose, contentment, and well-being. When you welcome these Japanese life concepts into your life, you build a profound connection with not only yourself but also with others and the world around you.

Each of these Japanese concepts offers valuable insights and empowers you to make small but meaningful changes and improvements in your life. From finding your life’s purpose to persevering through life’s challenges, these life concepts teach us a lot about ourselves and how to live a happy and fulfilling life.

So, my friends, take the first step today and let these 7 Japanese concepts become your guide in the journey called life. I hope that adopting these concepts will help you live a happier, more harmonious, and more fulfilling life!

Let me know what you think about living life the Japanese way in the comments below!

Disclaimer: The information in this article is based purely on the experience and research of the author and is not meant to be offensive to any person(s), culture(s), and country(s). If you have any questions or concerns about what’s written in this article, you can write to me at info@calmsage.com.

Take Care and Be Well!

About The Author

Swarnakshi Sharma
Swarnakshi Sharma

Swarnakshi is a content writer at Calm sage, who believes in a healthier lifestyle for mind and body. A fighter and survivor of depression, she strives to reach and help spread awareness on ending the stigma surrounding mental health issues. A spiritual person at heart, she believes in destiny and the power of Self. She is an avid reader and writer and likes to spend her free time baking and learning about world cultures.

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