If the pandemic has taught us anything, I hope it begins with our giving up perfectionist tendencies and fully embracing and enacting self-compassion. To do this means that we consciously choose a very different thought pattern … one that is inwardly kind, compassionate, supportive, and loving. Our inner game runs our outer game.
This thought pattern invites us to give up the impossible goal of unwavering strength and stoicism. Why is this something that we would want to aspire to? What is the blessing in not acknowledging pain and in defying the human condition? The beauty is in our struggle. It’s time to celebrate our process of navigating huge breaks of heart and hope.
One of my favorite concepts comes from an ancient Japanese art principle called “Kintsukuroi” or Kintsugi, which literally means ‘gold (kin) repair (tsugi)’. Kintsukuroi is an art form that uses seams of gold leaf to mend broken pieces of pottery back together. On a deeper level, it is the art of finding beauty in imperfection; of accepting the cycle of endings, change, and our transiency; of valuing the authenticity of our broken pieces.
The broken pieces become the highlight, our eye’s focus, and the total work of art is a thing of beauty. Philosophically, Kintsukuroi represents and honors the beauty, history and most interesting parts of ourselves. They are the pieces that were the hardest won, and the lessons learned from those experiences then became the most cherished. The art of Kintsukuroi suggests that our broken pieces are the most beautiful … they have a history and they are our most meaningful opportunities to learn. Let’s embrace them as important components in the bigger tapestry of our lives.
The idea of Kintsukuroi invites us to reflect on our own lives. Consider these questions as you run a mental movie of the highs and lows of your life.
- When was a time when you consciously saw your imperfections as blessings?
- What are some examples of impermanence in your life that are a good thing?
- What are some projects you are working on where the point lies in the process of the work and not solely on its completion?
- What are the mistakes that you’ve made that you have learned the most from?
- What are your broken pieces that have become positive gamechangers in your life?
- How did your strongest emotional components evolve?
- How do you give yourself permission to be good enough, and give yourself a break?
- How do you guide yourself to see from a 40,000-foot view rather than getting caught in the weeds?
- What steps do you take to emotionally heal?
- What figurative glue do you use to put broken pieces back together?
5 of My Favorite Books Addressing Kintsukuroi:
Broken Open, by Elizabeth Lesser
The Vein of Gold, by Julia Cameron
Kintsukuroi: Rebuilding Hope & Embracing Change, by Tyler Cartwright
Kintsukori Heart: More Beautiful for Having Been Broken, by Gabriel Amie
Becoming, by Michelle Obama
5 of My Favorite “Kintsukuroi” Quotes:
“The world breaks everyone and afterward many are stronger at the broken places.” – Ernest Hemingway
“My heart is full of gold veins, instead of cracks.” – Leah Raeder
“Kintsugi [is] not just a method of repair but also a philosophy. It’s the belief that the breaks, cracks, and repairs become a valuable and esteemed part of the history of an object, rather than something to be hidden. That, in fact, the piece is more beautiful for having been broken.” – Kathleen Tessaro
“The scars are the design. Your attention is drawn to the cracks and how they are mended. That is what you’re supposed to see. The beauty is in the brokenness.” – Justin Whitmel Earley
“It symbolizes how we must incorporate our wounds into who we are, rather than try to merely repair and forget them.” – David Wong