New Year, New me? The Japanese Approach
It’s a new year, and it’s time for a fresh start for most; The perfect opportunity to take the bull by the horns and smash those new year goals. Whether it is improving your diet, your home, or state of mind, decluttering our life at the beginning of the year has always topped our list of new year’s resolutions.
This year we’re looking for inspiration to make those resolutions count, and whom better to take notes from than the Japanese. Renowned as being cool, calm, and collected, the Japanese can offer inspiration to us all. Here, we explore traditional Japanese philosophies to help find a way to keep us on track with those difficult promises we have made to ourselves – and possibly others!
How can the Japanese help you to stay on track with your 2020 resolutions?
Let’s begin with the indigenous Japanese faith known as Shinto. Those who follow the Shinto faith believe that a kami (God/lord) enters the home at New Year’s. The Japanese use the days running up to new years to clean.
The deep clean is referred to as ōsōji, which involves the family cleaning all areas of the home, even those hard to reach areas we tend to skip in our daily cleaning routines. Most rural communities still uphold this tradition today. Even the shop keepers take part in ōsōji by offering discounted goods, disposing of any old and unsold stock. So, how can we learn from this tradition? There are numerous reports to suggest that a clean space promotes a clear mind.
Want a clean start? Sell that old bike and take a trip to your local charity. Let’s have 2020 vision in 2020.
Balance and Positivity
With cleaning and the new year Gods taken care of, we can now focus on the mind. For many, the first week of the new year means one thing; back to work and the return to the rat race. After that all-important morning coffee, you prepare to tackle the 103 emails you received while you were getting involved in the festivities. An hour into the day and you are ready to get into the more important tasks and all the festive fun is a distant memory but the question arises, how do you achieve a work life balance?
Introducing Ikigai: A philosophy promoting a balance of spirituality and the practicalities of life. It is a concept which attempts to question the reasons why we do what we do. This Japanese concept provides insight into what is fundamentally important to us as humans and helps us to realise our purpose in life. There are plenty of reasons why we should take a step back and take note of what is important in 2020. Ikigai can help prioritise the important things and help us gain fulfilment.
If one of your resolutions this year is to spend more time with your family or to save more, find the happy medium through this very interesting Japanese philosophy.
Decluttering and Organisation
It is crucial to be organised and gain a firm grip on your new year’s resolutions or any goals you set in 2020. Setting goals are a great start to the year, however, we will only be successful if we have a clear vision and clean space. Thus creating an optimal environment to plan, execute and most importantly achieve our resolutions.
Organising and decluttering your environment has many benefits; to begin with you always find what you are looking for because it is in its right place (a good start!).
The benefits of being organised are multifaceted, and they include increased productivity and happiness. We all think we know what to do to be tidy, however implementing a process that works is not always as simple. Luckily, we can refer back to our Japanese counterparts for some help. This time, to the queen of organisation and decluttering, Marie Kondo, author of “The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing”.
Dive into the world of minimalism and happiness with Marie’s very own method, referred to as the KonMari (こんまり) method. This book, to many, is a life-changing book filled with tips and advice on how to increase joy through decluttering and organisation!
How to keep the most difficult resolution?
Last but not least, the most commonly broken new years resolution is losing weight. Consistency in eating healthily and exercising regularly contributes to a healthier lifestyle. We hear about how to live healthier all the time, so why do we find it so difficult to fight the urge to eat that last slice of cake? The Japanese adopt a philosophy called Kaizen. This approach means ‘to change for the better’, focusing on taking small steps to achieve goals.
So, how can we apply Kaizen to our 2020 weight loss resolutions? Approach your goals with smaller goals and steps. According to Kaizen, making small changes daily or weekly to achieve our ultimate goal is key. When Kaizen is used for diet and wellbeing, it is commonly suggested to firstly review what is consumed in the current diet within a given period of time.
It is then advised to make small, yet impactful changes. For example, to avoid eating fried food or to change all fizzy drinks to sugar free. All of which are small steps but may have a substantial impact on other aspects of your health. A 30 minute daily walk may help you to meet your exercise goal, while simultaneously improving your cardiovascular health. Continued development by consistently taking small steps towards an ultimate end goal is at the forefront of this approach. Kaizen is definitely a philosophy to try and keep in mind to achieve not just new years goals, but anything you aspire to!
We can safely say that the Japanese have a philosophy or tradition on how to approach almost anything. Consistency and organisation seem to be at the forefront of staying on track, so we wish you good luck!