I just got back from a 2-week vacation in Japan and loved it.
I was very impressed with the people, culture and customs. It doesn’t matter what disasters come their way, such as atom bombs or tsunamis, the Japanese have reinvented their lives over and over again. What I noticed is they tend to focus on the here and now and not on the past. Tokyo’s skyline is ever changing because they tear down old buildings to put up new ones. In several years, they will be launching their new train that’ll be almost 3 times faster than the Bullet train.
These are perfect examples of how they are creatively reinventing themselves. They don’t talk about disastrous events as if they are victims; their focus is on moving forward. There’s no question that the Japanese live by some ancient customs. The overall energy, however, is vibrant and progressive. On my trip, I came to realize that there are 4 practices of the Japanese that keep their lives not only moving forward, but also thriving.
4 Tips To Reinventing Yourself – Japanese Style
You’ve heard the old adage, Patience Is A Virtue? Well, it’s true, and the Japanese are some of the most patient people I’ve ever met. For example, if you are out dining in a restaurant, they don’t ask if you’d like the check when you’re done eating. Not wanting you to feel rushed or unwelcome, they patiently wait for you to ask for the check. Also, their taxi drivers patiently wait for cars, buses and people to get out of their way while in route. It’s considered rude to honk, so they patiently wait instead. Pedestrians wait at the crosswalks for the light to turn green. In the beginning of my visit, it was certainly a challenge for this jay-walking New Yorker.
Mindfulness Tip– Become more patient with yourself and others so that you can relax and enjoy each day.
I became very aware of the unique style of placement, movement and cleanliness in Japan. It’s so different from what I’m used to in America. After a beautiful and tranquil demonstration of a tea ceremony, I noticed that it was the precision of their movements that made it such a meditative and calming experience. The precision of how they place food on plates and flowers in vases is like works of art. Quite frankly, it was their precision that made me feel cared-for and honored. Even the way they clean the Bullet train is precise. Check out this video about the how they clean the train in only 7 minutes.
Also, every bit of Tokyo was downright immaculate. The stores, restaurants, taxis and even garbage trucks are cleaned daily.
Mindfulness Tip– Be precise. Be deliberate in your thoughts and actions. Have them be in alignment with the goals that you’ve set for yourself. Doing so will have them actualize sooner than later.
Punctuality is very important to the Japanese. For example, their Bullet train is never more that 6 seconds late. I’ve decided to institute a couple of new ‘punctual’ practices in my own daily routine that has already helped me to create a fresh and smooth start to each day. I’m now selecting my outfit the night before, checking for stains, missing buttons and loose threads and I’m waking up 15 minutes earlier. Doing so has made me more productive and given me a sense of peace, especially in the mornings.
Mindfulness Tip– Be punctual. Show up on time and prepared. This will help you feel good about yourself and help your day run smoother.
The custom of bowing is so beautiful and is practiced by all the Japanese, young and old. In my hotel, there were some workers whose sole duty was to hold the elevator door open for you while bowing as the doors closed. I couldn’t help but feel very special. When asking for directions, the Japanese couldn’t do enough, wanting to be helpful in any way. Politeness and hospitality are certainly valued and the cornerstones of their culture.
Mindfulness Tip– Be polite. This shows that you value people’s feelings. And, certainly be polite to you by treating yourself with kindness and respect.
Put all of these tips into practice and you’ll be able to reinvent yourself everyday, too. This is what I call mindful living.