wavy pattern

how to handle your perfectionismđź‘Ś

it’s all about the wabi-sabi🍜

- Posted byHannah Miller

This is part two of our focus on perfectionism – if you missed the first part you can diagnose your brand of perfectionism here.

I have recently read a super little book called Wabi Sabi by Beth Kempton.

She promotes a way of living, quite different to the above.

Wabi-sabi simply means, the discovery of beauty in imperfection: the appreciation of simplicity and the acceptance of the transient nature of all things.

Simply put,
wabi = less is more
sabi = perfectly imperfect

But not so simply actioned – especially if you have some of the behaviours we’ve all owned above. What does Beth say we can do to push against this societal expectation, and inner drive we have?

Here’s a few points:

Simplify and beautify

This relates to how we connect with our surroundings and choosing habits that involve simplicity over accumulation. Yes, choose things that spark joy, bring beauty, but do we need more and more? Think about your favourite space. Why do you love it? What do you have in your life that you could let go of? What accumulation habits do you have?

Get in nature

We need the connection to the natural world, places and things of beauty – I have written about this before here in more detail but in summary, taking time in nature is good for our soul. Forest bathe, walk in open spaces, get to the beach, walk up a mountain. Detach, connect. Go somewhere that takes your breath away (to this end, I am hoping to get to Iceland this year, a lifelong dream destination, sadly cancelled by Covid-19 last Easter). A local beauty spot does the job, by the way.

Accept and let go

Could this be more relevant than in 2020 (brought home yet again evening of the 19th as tier 4 came into play and Christmas plans were scuppered all over the British Isles)? Can we learn to accept that there is so much that is not in our control, that life changes, that everything is impermanent, imperfect and incomplete? Is there anything that I actually find harder than this? This is why so many people live  with rhythms of meditation, yoga, prayer, mindfulness.

Acceptance takes practice. I have found the time-honoured words of the serenity prayer so. Incredibly helpful this year. You’ll have heard them but they are worth repeating:

God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,
and wisdom to know the difference.

Reframe failure

Another challenge for me. But those who practise a wabi-sabi approach to life know that failure is how we grow. I mean, I think I know this, but my ability to achieve is so connected to my self-worth that this is more difficult to do in real life. When something goes wrong, Beth suggests we stop and properly reflect and learn from times of disappointment or failure.

  1. Truth – state facts
  2. Humility – recognise your part
  3. Simplicity – what’s the single greatest learning from this?
  4. Impermanence – what did you lose, what did you gain, what has changed?
  5. Imperfection – what is imperfect in you, in others, what must you forgive of yourself and others
  6. Incompleteness – this is not the end of the story, it is merely a chapter.

Cherish the moment

Lately I am catching my face in the mirror and seeing my age. Instead of seeing the story it tells, I am longing for a time when I looked differently, a period of time which society would have called beautiful. I am imperfect.

What I find harder to say, is, I am perfectly imperfect.

Wabi-sabi living knows that all things are transient, and so embraces each age and stage, not longing to go forward, not looking to go back. I will not be here forever. You will not be here forever. Neither will those that we love. Cherishing each moment doesn’t mean all moments are easy. But this is the moment we have. We have to catch the fleeting moments of beauty rather than expecting life to be one-long beauty-happy-fest. And when we catch those moments, cherish them, be present in them, that is wabi-sabi.

This Christmas is a case in point. It may not look like you would like it to (I know that I have so much to be grateful for, with all three sons at home, but I will miss my extended family, going to church, the hugs, the laughter, the joy and the larger celebrations so much).


There is no better a time than right now to be remembering the art of wabi-sabi. 

Cherishing the moment you are in, not the one you wish you were in.

So on that note, I am going to sign off. It’s been an unbelievably busy time in this house, as I am sure many of you would concur in homes up and down the country. Writing a course whilst continuing to run my existing business, whilst looking after my family has been harder than I thought when I set off on the grand idea of The Purpose Pursuit in the summer. It’s been worth it, I am so excited for the launch in January, but right now I need to go and practise some wabi-sabi and be present with my family. 

With love, peace and joy to you and your loved ones this Christmastime. 

Hannah x



P.S. Brene Brown is an excellent resource on all this. Check out her TEDtalk.

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