Embracing Wabi-sabi: Be a Little Crazy
You know this person. They’ll say or do anything to make you happy. They probably agree with whatever you just said. They go out of their way to fit into your group or be like you. It’s annoying, because you know it’s fake. They are the ultimate People Pleaser. Is this you?
People Pleasing is an interesting addiction. The truth is we all have a bit of this tendency. It can consume us as we try to win over the attention and admiration of others. We shift, twist, and bend into all sorts of forms in order to please someone else (or maybe one particular person) based on a projection of what we think they want us to be.
Why do we do this?
We want to be loved and accepted. We want to belong. We want to feel comfortable and at ease. Sometimes hiding behind a fake persona is easier than being ourselves. That way when judgment does come it doesn’t hurt us as deeply. Or so we think. We slip into the crowd, and blend into the herds. We are, after all, evolutionary beings built knowing that when we blend in we are safe from danger. It was the animal that stood out from the pack that was hunted and killed. We fit in to stay alive.
Staying alive is obviously important. But don’t you want to move beyond just living? Following the pack isn’t going to take you to a new level. Blending in makes it impossible to thrive. Fitting in will keep you in your comfort zone, but it will also deny you the ability to reach your highest potential.
It’s not always easy. In fact, it’s the person who stands out and speaks their mind that is the most criticized. When Greek Pythagoras first suggested the world was round, it was thought to be preposterous. It is the artists who go beyond what has been done before that end up making the masterpieces, but not without hearing how stupid, strange, or crazy they are first. Being resilient to naysayers’ judgments is one of the biggest hurdles in moving beyond people pleasing.
We want others’ approval, and will often do whatever it takes to get it.
We wonder what other people want. It can consume us. What our boss wants. What the guy we’re dating wants. What the world wants. Unfortunately we’re terribly poor judges of what others want.
Because of this we live behind these masks: the pretty girl, the funny one, the quiet helper, the smiling health nut. We hide our real selves behind these labels. We allow a job to define us. We let other people tell us who we are. It seems necessary. We let the world tell us our place in the world and the path we need to follow in order to be successful and happy.
And we wonder why we are so bored, unfulfilled, or exhausted.
When we live in a perpetual state of hiding or holding back, it’s draining. It takes more effort to be someone else than to be you. But it’s scary, sometimes terrifying, being all of who you are. There is no “how to be you” manual. We’ve all been given our DNA, a unique personality blue print, as well as our individual gifts and purpose to express. It’s your job, your destiny, to figure out how to be all of you and use your life for some greater good.
Do you want to know what the world really wants?
Your supervisor, your family, your lover, your dog, your yoga teacher, that guy sitting across from you at Starbucks… what everyone really wants is for you to be your most authentic self. I know this because deep down we all want the same thing. We want the freedom to be ourselves, and we want that for everyone else, too. You are your best when you are real and raw. It’s a vulnerable place to live, being all of who you are. But it’s where the goodness in life lies.
In Japan they have a term Wabi-sabi, which is the art of discovering beauty in imperfection. Authenticity is what the seeker is looking for. Not a copy-cat of some definition of perfection. It is said that Wabi-sabi celebrates “the human not the machine.” We are humans, perfectly imperfect. We naturally inherit these cracks and dings throughout our lives, and they make us more beautiful, more ourselves. “Wabi-sabi nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect.”
What if we embraced those three statements as truths about ourselves? We are impermanent, we are continually evolving, and we are humanly imperfect.
Steve Jobs reminds us: “Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
Embrace your own personal Wabi-sabi. Be the crazy one. The world is waiting for you to be all of who you are. If you want to create change, start by being authentic. Start by standing for what you believe in. Go after what your heart deeply desires. It takes courage, so muster it up right now. Let nothing stop you, this is your purpose. Live it.