Lifestyle design is a pervasive theme throughout my work. To design one’s lifestyle is a cultivation and careful consideration of environmental wellness variables. Beyond the epigenetic exposures that are so obviously considered in designing wellness such as the foods we eat, the relationships we engage in, the presence of pollution or availability of clean water, so are the aesthetic exposures that may enrich us. All mediums of art, music and nature for instance are of this design exposure realm.

The Japanese design aesthetics folded into wabi-sabi, (transience and imperfection) and yugen, (the profound mystery, grace and subtlety of the universe) offer a way of life for the Japanese and can be applied to the way we design our lives, our wellbeing and our contentment. Each aesthetic offers an insight into balancing all aspects of daily life, from our depths to the surface, and how we communicate with those around us.

Kanso is the aesthetic of simplicity and minimalism. It is what we embrace to declutter the mind of outworn patterns or beliefs and remove excesses from our lifestyle to make room for new sensibilities. Kanso should not be mistaken with the idea that once you’ve cleared everything out it’s time to fill it back up again like a newly remodeled room in your house. The yin and yang nature of Kanso is to understand and experience life as simple, understated, fresh, clean and neat to reveal the more profound.

Practicing and Applying the Yin and Yang of Kanso Into Your Daily Life

  • Exclude the non-essential, both mentally and materially. Ask yourself this question: Can I own less to allow what I truly value to surface in my life?
  • Say goodbye to complicated relationships and careers. If it feels draining, is too much work to maintain, or if you’re forever working to make it better, it may be worth moving on.
  • Consider the plain and simple and think in terms of clarity, not decoration. When we remove stuff or things that may over-excite us or weigh us down we allow the simplicity of nature to express its truthfulness. Walk through a Zen garden and you will experience this.

Many of my patients who practice Kanso have reported less headaches, improved sleep, reduced TMJ, decreased worry, anxiety and depression, more sustained energy and an overall sense of contentment. They are free from so much “stuff” to think about, therefore eased of stress and tension.

See how these modern minimalists are balancing the art of Kanso in their work and daily lives for more inspo.

What can you eliminate in order to make room for what really matters?

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