Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery by mending the areas of breakage with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum, a method similar to the maki-e technique. As a philosophy, it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise. (Source: Wikipedia) The revitalised ceramic becomes a symbol of fragility, strength and beauty.
Kintsugi: Embrace your imperfections and find happiness – the Japanese way
Kintsugi, which translates as “golden joinery”, can be seen as a metaphor for life, says Tomás Navarro, a psychologist . Navarro, who spent 20 years as a counsellor was struck by how many people talked about feeling “broken” after enduring heartbreak, grief and trauma.
As a result he was inspired to write Kintsugi: Embrace Your Imperfections and Find Happiness – The Japanese Way, through which he hopes to teach people how to apply the ancient principles of the art in their day-to-day lives.
“Ceramics are fragile, strong and beautiful all at once, just like people. Ceramics and life can break apart into a thousand pieces, but not for that reason should we stop living intensely.”Tomás Navarro
When we lose a person we love, a job, or our health, it can feel like a precious piece of ourselves falling to the ground and shattering. But in the Japanese art of kintsugi, that’s where the creation of beauty begins—in the delicate re-joining and mending of shards with loving attention. Psychologist Tomás Navarro encourages us to approach our lives in the same way.
Everyone faces suffering, but how we engage with our troubles and heal our emotional wounds can make all the difference. Rather than conceal our repairs, what if we embraced them—and looked to them as proofs of our strength?
The over-riding message of the book is one that I heartily endorse from my personal experience: If we don’t properly take time to repair and reflect on life’s challenges, we are at risk of miring ourselves in self-pity and victimization.
Life is challenging and we must accept that. When life threatens to shatter and break us we can apply kintsugi. Embrace the challenges. Dig deep within to restore ourselves and acknowledge that our scars make us strong, authentic and interesting people.
Navarro says that emotional strength can be learned.
Navarro recommends art as tool for healing. He recommends writing, building a sandcastle, learning to crochet, doing a collage; anything that occupies the mind.
“When we are immersed in a creative process, we adopt a new perspective that allows us to analyse the pain that we’ve suffered, and transform it into something beautiful.”
I liked the philosophy of the book and the simple way in which it was presented. Using real life examples, stories and insights, the author helps us to think about our own way of handling adversity and reflect on the need to embrace our scars.