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World Wise Beauty Selects ‘WABI SABI’ as the Summer 2019 Book Wise Pick…


Holly Bobbins Photography

Tis the season to go on vacation or get away right? What if I told you that reading this book might show you how to live a life you won’t need to escape from?  Yes that’s a big proposition, but if you are open to a shift in perspective, this book will not only transport you to another country with beautiful life affirming rituals, but it will also shift your mind to a much improved positive state.  I’ve touched on Wabi-Sabi before at World Wise Beauty, but Beth Kempton has written a beautiful inspiring book about the centuries old Japanese wisdom that is sure to get you thinking about your life in a fresh and liberating way. Liberated from what you ask? I think the subtitle gives you a little hint of what the answer could be. “Japanese Wisdom for a Perfectly Imperfect World.”.

I could attempt to give you a translation and definition of Wabi Sabi, but as Beth shares in her book, Wabi Sabi is really a world view of how the Japanese experience life. People in Japan know intuitively what the concept of Wabi Sabi represents but rarely discuss it. Much like the concept of Sisu in Finland, ( see WWB’s Winter Book Wise Pick) it’s really a perspective and a way of living. No surprise I selected both these books for you, as both mindsets value living harmoniously with nature. Beth shares in her book, “Wabi Sabi is akin to loving appreciation for beauty, for nature, for ourselves, for one another and for life itself. Her beautiful book reveals how Wabi Sabi permeates every aspect of our life when we are present for it, and at the same time we are willing to let it go. I feel lighter already just thinking about it. Don’t you?

Why is this woman from the UK writing books about Wabi Sabi? Well for starters, she earned a Master’s Degree in Japanese, and spent many years living there soaking up the culture and studying the philosophy. She also has a personal passion for living life well (we like that!) and the Wabi Sabi philosophy helped her to distill what truly mattered in her life. Beth takes you on a journey to Japan, and presents a beautiful cache of wisdom to contemplate and put into practice.  I hope you find this book as enlightening and inspiring as I did. You can learn more about Beth and her work at her website, but in the meantime order the book and take time to reframe your world view through a different refreshing lens. Below is a few wise bites from the book  to contemplate. Beth has also graciously agreed to a short Q&A to get us thinking about applying the principles of Wabi Sabi to a lifestyle we don’t have to escape from. Read on and enjoy a perfectly imperfect summer!





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WISE BITE: “We give away freely that most precious of resources–our attention. And in doing so, we cheat ourselves out of the gifts that are already here.”

Lauroly Q-  ( aka Laura Connolly, founder of World Wise Beauty) How is this particularly relevant in our culture today?

Beth Kempton: I think we are living in challenging yet fascinating times. These days technology presents a paradox of connection. While it promises speed and efficiency and gives us access to more information, images and people than ever before, those very things can trap us when we start to compare ourselves more with other people’s ‘perfect’ lives, spend endless hours checking in and give less to our lives offline. From the moment we wake up, to the time we stumble into bed, we are fed messages about what we should look like, wear, eat and buy, how much we should be earning, who we should love and how we should parent. Many of us probably spend more time thinking about other people’s lives than investing in our own. This is causing major mental health issues and a crisis of confidence. Add to this the pace at which we are encouraged to function, driven by society and the media to endlessly strive for more, and it’s no wonder so many of us are feeling overwhelmed, insecure, untethered and worn out. There is so much goodness available to us, but we are so distracted that we forget much of it can be found right in front of us, if we just put down our phones, or look up from our laptops, long enough to notice.

WISE BITE: “Letting go of what you think should be does not mean
giving up on what could be.”

Lauroly Q-  This is a tricky one! How does Wabi Sabi help us move past failures and disappointments in life while still nourishing our aspirations?

Beth Kempton: Over the years I have come to realize that ‘failure’ is a very negative word for an experience that can end up being very positive. Essentially it happens when there is a mismatch of our expectations or desired outcome, with the actual outcome of something. However, with hindsight I can see that we don’t always know what outcome would be the best for us, so we sometimes hang our hopes on the wrong things, perhaps because of social conditioning or some kind of loyalty to the expectations of others. For example, we might apply for a job and then not get it, but the not getting it might turn out to be a blessing when another opportunity comes along. By coming back to this idea that everything changes, we know that life will move us beyond the ‘failure’ to whatever comes next.

WISE BITE: “It is our imperfections that make us unique, and our uniqueness that makes each of us beautiful.”

Lauroly Q- There is so much in nature that teaches us about the beauty in imperfection if we only paid attention. How do we adopt a mindset of imperfection, when everything in our western culture prizes ‘the best’ or ‘the perfect’.

Beth Kempton: It always takes courage to step out of the slipstream and think for yourself, but it makes such a difference when you do! It can really help to spend time in nature, looking carefully at what is growing all around you, and thinking about the big picture of life itself, and your place in the world. When your really start to notice that everything is changing all the time – from the tomato plant growing on your windowsill to the skin on the back of your hands – you realize that nothing is ever complete, and as perfection is a state of completeness, nothing can ever be perfect. You don’t have to adopt a mindset of imperfection because it is already your natural state. When you give that thought some attention, and embrace it, you start to see the world in a very different way. You treasure good times more, as you know they will not last, and you don’t get so caught up in hard times, because you know they will also pass. It is a very gentle way of ushering yourself through life.

Lauroly Closing Remarks: Thank you so much for writing such a wise and insightful book Beth. You are truly a World Wise Beauty. I hope your special book inspires everyone to learn more about the Japanese Wabi Sabi philosophy. They will discover through reading your book, that adopting this wise life perspective can help us nurture our nature and live life well. So much of what I share here at World Wise Beauty encourages this very call to action. Your passion for Japanese wisdom will enlighten and inspire so many, who have longed for a simple philosophy to live by. And maybe, just maybe, we will all find a little piece of happiness right where we are in this very moment. With gratitude…

Beth Closing Remarks: Thank you Laura, for sharing these ideas with your readers. As you know, the way we have been living over the past century or so, with rapid industrialization and easy access to credit, has led us to consume on unprecedented levels and at an unprecedented pace. But it is only really in the past few years that we are starting to really understand the impact of that on the planet we share. Wabi Sabi brings us back to the things that matter, encouraging us to live in a more sustainable, gentle way, which actually feels better. It helps us recognize the gifts of a simpler but richer life. I very much hope that we are in the beginnings of a deep social transformation, because the world desperately needs it.


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