Years ago, during a devastating crisis, I saw a quote that struck a nerve: “Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.”
I felt the deep wisdom in those words. Yet I couldn’t figure out how to apply them to my life. Here I was, facing a crushing divorce from a compulsive liar, a million-dollar tax bill I couldn’t pay, and my parents refusing to help. Left alone to raise 3 young daughters, I was terrified.
Since that time, I’ve often wondered—Is it really possible to find peace in the midst of pain? The answer escaped me…
Until this week…when Katie Adler, a member of my online community, shared an article about Wabi Sabi.
Wabi Sabi, an ancient Japanese philosophy, is all about finding peace and beauty in imperfection. And it offers a simple but practical formula for experiencing pain without suffering:
“Accept what is, stay in the present moment, and appreciate the simple, transient stages of life.”
This formula is based on a concept known as Uketamo, or “I humbly accept with an open heart.”
The article, written by Omar Itani, explains how this works:
- “You’re about to lose your job? Uketamo.”
- “The forecast suddenly changed to downpour rain and now you must cancel your outdoor event. Uketamo.“
- “You had a very silly accident and now you’ve fractured your left leg and are due to be in a cast for the next month? Uketamo.”
Instead of fighting the difficulties life throws at you, Wabi Sabi asks you to surrender to them. Resistance intensifies suffering. Acceptance leads to contentment.
“It’s not about giving up,” Itani emphasizes. “It’s about surrendering to the gravity of the situation at hand and then actively playing a role in deciding what happens next.”
Looking back at that crisis, and all other struggles I’ve endured, I now see that pain was a gift pushing me past my resistance to change, forcing me to learn about money, propelling me into a new beginning disguised as a painful ending.
“You will find peace and freedom, and you will step onto the path of growth,” the article explains, “once you begin yielding and surrendering to the imperfect flow of life.” Uketamo!
Do you think applying the principles of Wabi Sabi would help you find peace in the midst of pain? Leave me a comment below.
To read the article about Wabi Sabi, click HERE.