Japanese philosophy has been practised and studied for thousands of years. Historically a fusion of foreign (particularly Chinese and Western) as well as Japanese cultural elements, the Japanese have a unique outlook on life, inspired by their philosophical history and Buddhist religious practises. Perhaps influenced by Buddhist practises reproaching materialism, the Japanese especially have great tips on organising your home and ridding your life of unnecessary items that weigh you down.
Japanese culture is a fascinating juxtaposition of the old and new, a country renowned for both its technological prowess and its strong ties to its roots and ancient traditions. Influenced by the Age of Enlightenment, Socialism and Christianity since the Meiji Restoration, Japanese philosophy experienced a renewed focus on Japanese national tradition, which rose to significance as a reaction to Westernisation.
The 20th Century philosophy movement that combined Western philosophy and religious ideas and moral insights into the East Asian cultural tradition is referred to as The Kyoto School.
To help you gain some insight into this fascinating culture, here are 14 Japanese quotes that will change your philosophy on life.
1. IF A PROBLEM CAN BE SOLVED, THEN IT’S NOT WORTH WORRYING ABOUT. IF IT CAN’T BE SOLVED, THEN IT’S USELESS TO WORRY ABOUT IT.
This quote takes ‘don’t sweat the small stuff’ to the next level. If you have a bad habit of
worrying about circumstances outside of your control, this is a great way to put things in perspective. It’s also a reminder to take action on the issues that you do have control over, rather than complaining about it.
2. HAVING TAKEN THE TIME TO THINK, VENTURE TO ACT. ONCE YOU’VE DONE SO, STOP THINKING.
If you’ve taken the time to consider all of the options and you’ve come to a decision, then the hard part is over. Put your choice into action, and trust your judgment that it’s the right one.
3. IT IS BETTER TO BE THE ENEMY OF A GOOD PERSON THAN THE FRIEND OF A BAD ONE.
Better the devil you know – even if you may not consider someone a friend, you can still respect their good qualities. Time spent on welcoming individuals that don’t have your best interests at heart into your life is time wasted.
4. THERE HAS NEVER BEEN A GREAT INDIVIDUAL WHO DID NOT HAVE ORDINARY PEOPLE AT THEIR SIDE.
Ordinary people can still have an influence on great things. There’s no shame in standing in the background and helping the person best suited to the spotlight to achieve a collective goal.
5. HE WHO STRONGLY DESIRES TO RISE UP WILL THINK OF A WAY TO BUILD A LADDER.
If you want something badly enough, you’ll find a way to make it happen. Lofty goals are rarely achieved without innovation.
6. HE WHO DRINKS DOES NOT KNOW THE DANGERS OF WINE; HE WHO DOESN’T DRINK DOES NOT KNOW ITS BENEFITS.
There are pros and cons of everything in life, but knowledge is the gift that will serve you well in any situation.
7. BEAUTIFUL FLOWERS DO NOT BEAR GOOD FRUIT.
Appearances don’t always express what’s on the inside. In other words, the best way to judge someone is not on their looks, but on the content of their character. It’s what’s inside that counts!
8. DO EVERYTHING THAT YOU CAN AND LEAVE THE REST TO FATE.
Let go and let God – sometimes you’ve just got to accept that there’s only so much you can do, know that you’ve tried your best, and leave the rest up to the universe.
9. EXCESSIVE HONESTY OFTEN BORDERS ON STUPIDITY.
Sometimes, honesty isn’t always the best policy – this quote isn’t suggesting that dishonesty is a better option, but sometime’s there’s a lot to be said for knowing when to keep your mouth shut and mind your own business.
10. FORTUNE WILL ALWAYS COME IN TO A HOUSE WITH LAUGHTER.
Keeping a sense of humour in life is important. No matter how grim things can seem, it always helps to laugh. A little perspective can often do a world of good when skies are grey.
11. EVEN MONKEYS CAN FALL FROM THEIR TREES.
No matter how accomplished we can become, you can always make a mistake. Overconfidence can often lead to oversights – this quote is a great lesson is staying humble.
12. IF YOU DO NOT ENTER THE TIGER’S CAVE, YOU WILL NOT CATCH ITS CUB.
Sometimes you need to take risks to reap rewards. A little bit of gumption and courage in the face of an intimidating task is often required to meet an ambitious goal – and more often than not, it will be rewarded.
13. ASK A QUESTION AND YOU FEEL SHAME FOR A MOMENT. NOT ASKING AND NOT KNOWING MEANS YOU WILL FEEL SHAME FOR YOUR WHOLE LIFE.
Never feel afraid to admit when you don’t know something. The first step to knowing something is asking – there’s no shame in not knowing everything. Learning is a lifelong experience and a wonderful gift. Pride isn’t!
14. A BAD CRAFTSMAN NEVER MADE A PERFECT VASE.
If you expect perfect results, honing your craft is the only way to success. Practise makes perfect, and no one said success came easy.
The Japanese offer great wisdom on keeping life in perspective, on the benefits of hard work and prioritising the right things in life. Next time you’re feeling stressed about work, just think about these quotes, and watch your worries melt away.