Finding Beauty in the Imperfections of Ourselves and in Life

–A Wabi-Sabi perspective

A source of dissatisfaction with oneself often comes from comparison to others, and seeing only stark differences in appearance, ability, or possessions. It seems easier to appreciate the positive qualities in others, and see, disapprovingly, our own perceived flaws. Considering the Japanese wisdom of wabi-sabi can help us appreciate the beauty of our imperfection. Wabi-sabi acknowledges the beauty of anything in its most natural form as it changes over time.

“Wabi” refers to flaws, imperfection, and the impermanence of everything.  “Sabi” means the effect that time and the aging process have on any object, that gives it more character, uniqueness, individuality, and greater value.

“Wabi-sabi nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, nothing is perfect.” Richard Powell, author of Wabi-Sabi Simple.

We can remind ourselves that everything changes over time, and that we must try to see value in our life stages, wisdom gained through reflection on our life experiences, and to appreciate the beautiful imperfection of our natural state. Every phase of life is precious. Having self-worth can empower us to use and expand our strengths, recognize and appreciate inherent flaws in all of us, and create a mosaic reflecting all we can do – and be – together.

Time can turn functional objects into art and well-tended gardens into wild spaces.

Spring buds on trees become summer leaves and then crunchy ground cover in autumn. We marvel at the most colorful leave and press them between pages in books, savoring the exquisite uniqueness of each leaf.

As we move through the seasons of life, we too become more beautiful and distinctive in our natural state, weathered yet resilient.

Let us appreciate who we are and who we are becoming, cherishing our individuality and commonality, our wit and wisdom… the pressed leaves in our book of life.

I included this just to share the beauty of the 12-acre farm where I lived with my little bantam chickens and rejoiced in the solitude and solace of nature, while healing and rejuvenating. It was a most wonderful time in life!


Lisa Elsinger
Lisa Elsinger
Lisa Elsinger, Ph.D., is a lifelong advocate for taking care of body, mind, and spirit, so we can live this precious life with vitality and give our best to the world. She leads the Live Well at Broward College employee wellness program, where she integrates health and well-being into employee experience and organizational culture-building strategy. Committed to helping people integrate healthy habits into busy lives, Lisa emphasizes a “no extremes” approach, and provides regular insights on lifelong well-being via Well-being Wednesday, a weekly newsletter; Purposeful Pauses, weekly mindfulness, meditation, and rejuvenation breaks; interactive department and class sessions on multiple aspects of health; and ergonomic workstation assessment and remediation. Lisa values being immersed in the College’s altruistic initiatives, advocating for student and community health, and empowering people to share their stories to support and inspire others. She loves the breathtaking seaside sunrises in South Florida, farm animal sanctuaries, learning about all things neuroscience, music, and the experience of waking up, getting up, and showing up each day to make the world a better place, one action at a time.

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  1. Thank you, Carolyn, I’m so happy you found my essay worthwhile. I enjoy reading the articles on this forum, although my workload does not allow much time at this point. We learn a great deal from one another, as Ram Dass said “we are all just walking each other home.”

  2. Lisa,
    Thank you so much for this insightful and timely essay!
    This past week I have been reflecting on this topic, trying to untangle the complexity of time.
    This right here has caused me to pause and smile:
    “Wabi-sabi nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, nothing is perfect.”