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Never heard of ukeireru? Pay attention, because it’s going to improve your life

Acceptance. It’s the final stage of grief and arguably the most difficult. It means acknowledging you can’t change something. That’s challenging, particularly if you are grieving the loss of a friend, family member, or job. It can bring on complicated feelings of emptiness and failure.

Yet, it’s necessary. In Japanese culture, the concept of acceptance helps people remain in harmony with the world around them, even during difficult periods of change. It can help when life feels like it’s off course, a feeling many of us may have experienced throughout the pandemic.

There are many words for acceptance in Japanese, but ukeireru is a common one. But, it’s more than a word; it’s a concept you can apply to your life to better handle adversity and build resilience.

a woman with eyes closed walking outside
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The theory behind ukeireru

Accepting yourself — your quirks, flaws, and past — is essential in becoming the best version of yourself. However, ukeireru goes beyond that. It’s also about accepting others as they are and your life as it is. Ukeireru challenges us to come to terms with what’s going on in our communities, jobs, relationships, and schools. For example, you may not like that your employer is not allowing in-person meetings and miss having the opportunity to connect with colleagues face-to-face. However, understanding that you cannot change the situation and perhaps reminding yourself that it’s only temporary can soothe you. This perspective can open the door for a more positive outlook.

Why ukeireru can be hard — but worth it

In Japanese culture, there is pressure to reach and achieve high. A similar, can-do attitude exists in the U.S. For those used to functioning in a culture where one must succeed at all costs, ukeireru can feel like giving up.

It’s not, though. When you accept something for what it is, you allow yourself to step back and view your place in the world and situation. You may have a different opinion on how to approach a project than your boss and colleagues, and their strategy is the one the company has decided to use. When you calmly assess the situation, you can understand your role as one person on a large team. You don’t have to give up altogether. Rather, letting go of the “my-way-or-the-highway” attitude will allow you to do your best work under the current strategy. One study showed that mediators made fewer errors, and the researchers attributed this higher functioning to emotional acceptance. It may also help you focus, according to one study.

a woman outside with hands behind head
Image used with permission by copyright holder

How to apply ukeireru to your life

There are many ways to make this Japanese approach to acceptance part of your lifestyle. Here are a few you can try:

Spend more time in nature

Studies show spending time in green space can help reduce stress, which can help you cope with adversity and make room for acceptance. What’s more, nature can help you gain perspective on your small role in a big world. This epiphany isn’t meant to minimize your existence. Instead, it serves as a reminder that there are many opinions and ways to approach a situation, which can help you accept others who differ from you.

Ask yourself why you are stressed

Acceptance asks us to step back from challenging situations, including stressful ones. Doing so can help you evaluate your feelings and whether it’s a battle worth fighting. Do you feel like you’re doing everything around the home and find yourself constantly annoyed at your partner? Perhaps you are both overworked, and that’s the real root of the problem. You can work together to prioritize what is important, and maybe you can learn to let go of a dirty dish in the sink.

Have a mantra

Having a mantra, like, “this isn’t forever,” can serve as a regular reminder that you can only control so much. You can recite this mantra as you meditate for added mindfulness.

Practice empathy

You may be annoyed that a colleague held you up at work, only to find out they had to take a family-related call. Even though having to work a little longer is bothersome, seeing things from their point of view can help you on your journey to acceptance.

The term ukeireru means acceptance in Japanese. It’s more than a word, though. It’s a concept and an approach to life that can yield greater harmony and happiness. It’s essential to remember practicing ukeireru doesn’t mean giving up. Instead, it means empathizing with others, understanding your role in the world, and making the most of the life you have. Practicing ukeireru can reduce stress, increase focus, help you make fewer errors, and lead to healthier relationships.

BlissMark provides information regarding health, wellness, and beauty. The information within this article is not intended to be medical advice. Before starting any diet or exercise routine, consult your physician. If you don’t have a primary care physician, the United States Health & Human Services department has a free online tool that can help you locate a clinic in your area. We are not medical professionals, have not verified or vetted any programs, and in no way intend our content to be anything more than informative and inspiring.

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BethAnn Mayer
Beth Ann's work has appeared on and In her spare time, you can find her running (either marathons…
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