WHAT SAKOKU IN JAPAN TAUGHT US ABOUT ISOLATION

This post is inspired by Temperance Brennan from “Bones”.

Quote: As an anthropologist, I understand the danger inherent in making your world too small. After times of national trauma, many countries become isolationist. It happened in Japan with the Sakoku policy.

 YOU ARE PROBABLY WONDERING WHAT THE HECK THIS SAKOKU POLICY IS?

Sakoku is usually translated as “closed country”.  What happened was that Japan decided that it would be in their best interest to keep the affairs of other countries at a distance. Under this policy, foreigners were barred from entering Japan and Japanese citizens were likewise kept from leaving the country.

Before the Sakoku policy was adopted, Japan was in a state of chaos because of the Onin war and the Sengoku period (you should read more about this, so damn fascinating). But because the Sakoku policy was adopted, Japan was now safe from outside threat and could easily avoid foreign intrusion as well as foreign aid to hostile the situations in the country.

 BUT FOR HOW LONG DOES ISOLATION WORK?

The Sakoku period in Japan lasted for two and a half centuries and it gave the country a favorable background that would enable them to get better economics and social prosperity. The country entered a long period of economic and social prosperity, but not surprisingly, this desirable effect went on to produce undesirable effects.

The result of being so closed off and making their world so small, was that Japan now didn’t have anyone else to learn from but themselves. The country came to a point where it was in a social stagnation. Every aspect of growth the country was achieving under the Sakoku policy and after, came to a sudden halt. At this moment, Japan realized that in order for them to keep growing, they needed to start trusting others again.

 SO WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM THIS?

Basically, the Sakoku policy taught us that it isn’t always a bad idea to close ourselves from the world, because we can all use some time to rebuild ourselves. Sometimes we take on the feelings of those arounds us because we don’t set emotional boundaries. Maybe a closed one is having a bad time and you cope with that by hiding your own happiness. Maybe you pretend to be the perfect student, wife or father to not burden those around you. Maybe you are perceived as this strong person who has their life in check, resulting in you not being able to share the difficulties and challenges you yourself are facing.

Other times the problem can be that a closed one violated your trust so the most logical thing to do is to build this wall to prevent yourself from getting hurt.

By inventing your own Sakoku Policy, you can give yourself time to close off from the world. You can give yourself time to be sad, to be happy, to not be so darn perfect all the time. You can give yourself time to learn to trust again.

But as the Sakoku policy taught us, we will sooner or later need to reengage and realize we have others around us we can trust. Because otherwise, we will never be able to move forward by making our world too small.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HOW WOULD YOU ANSWER THIS ONE QUESTION?

Skjermbilde 3

A couples of days ago, I was eating dinner with my mother and I was telling her about how some of my college friends already had jobs, some were getting married and some bought their first house. I then preceded to complain about how I wasn’t as “successful” as them. After my mother listened to me going on and on about this, she said; you have told me all night how unsuccessful you feel compared to them, but what are you most proud of without comparing yourself to others? 


I’m guilty of relentlessly comparing myself to others around me, whether it is how my body looks, how successful I am or how loved I am by those around me. Unconsciously, I find myself thinking that I am not good enough, that I am not doing the most or that I am not deserving of love because I feel like I have failed myself or those around me.

Without blaming all these thoughts on culture, it is true that I feel like we are in a certain degree made to feel less of a successful person if we haven’t fulfilled certain expectations. Maybe we are still single by a certain age, don’t make a certain amount of income or don’t have a large social circle. Maybe we don’t look a certain way or act a certain way around others.

The product of all these thoughts is that I feel like we get stuck in our own heads, leading to our self esteem to take a nosedive until we feel like the meaning of life is to binge watch Netflix and eat comfort food. We let our inner-critics take the wheel to the point that we forget what is truly wonderful and unique about us.

But the thing is that we can’t hate our self into loving our self. Focusing on the things that makes us feel like we are not successful enough will only take us so far. It is our own job to make ourselves feel like we matter and that we are enough, regardless of who we are and where we are in life at this very moment. We need to practice self-love to have a chance of being happy.

Practicing self-love isn’t about being self-absorbed to the point that we become narcissists. It is about getting in touch with ourselves, learning to be our own source for happiness and getting in touch with our own well-being.

I think that the idea of practicing self-love is so simple, yet so hard to do. Going back to my conversation with my mother, I was taken aback by the question.  I was so focused on comparing myself to others that I had forgotten what I was most proud of.  And in reality that is all it really takes to practice self-love, one simple question,  what are you most proud of?

What you are most proud of doesn’t have to be something big. It can be something you did so far in your life, this year, month, week or even this day. Maybe you are proud of how well you handled a certain situation or maybe you made someone else feel good about themselves.  The important think is that it might give you the breathing room you need to get out of this downward spiral of self-hate that is so suffocating at times.

 I myself am most proud that I finished a bachelor in Norwegian law, with above average grades, while working up to fulltime workdays. I am most proud that I mustered the courage to drive eight hours by myself, when I really don’t enjoy driving at all. I am most proud that I enrolled myself in a Spanish course when I haven’t really had any connection to the language or culture.

I haven’t gotten a job as was expected of me, I am still singel and I am doubting what I really want to do with my life. But i’m darn well proud of myself for what I have achieved so far in my life. Maybe others won’t even bat an eye of what I mentioned above, but the thing is that I don’t have to compare myself to others. I did that, and it is good enough for me.

So my question to you is; what are you most proud of?

 

MINIMALISM – HOW TO MAKE MOVING EASY

I remember when i first moved out of my parents house to study in a new city. At that time, the only thing accompanying me was my suitcase, my laptop and my phone. I have always been a minimalist by heart, but recently I found out that I might have slipped up during those three years of college. The thing is that I am in less than 5 days  moving back  with my parents again and it is not an option to bring back ten boxes of god knows what. The inevitable was upon me so I had to dig deep down into the minimalist in me and come up with some ideas to go from ten boxes to three.


 

The first thing i did was that I visualized my new space. Luckily for me, I am familiar with my parents home so I know what kind of space I have at my disposal. With this in mind, I went ahead and started throwing away everything that didn’t comply with my idea of minimal and clean space.

The second thing I did was that I discarded the duplicates. I went through all my stuff and put one of each thing I had collected two off, over the years, into a box. This part was probably the easiest for me.

Like most people, I don’t tend to re-read books that I have already read. So that is why the third thing I did was sort my books into a read-pile and an unread one. I then percedet to donate the books that I have already read. I should probably tell you that this was the hardest thing for me to do. The thing is that we humans tend to regard the pain of losing something to be greater than having it. I also kind off felt guilty for leaving behind something that I valued so much, but in reality didn’t have any use for.

GetArticleImage

The last thing I did was that I went through my clothes. I, like many others, have a few items of clothing that I never wear and that I probably won’t wear in the future either. This being the case, it should’ve been easy to throw those away, but of course that  feeling of guilt was lingering around as usual. Initially, anything that I hadn’t worn in the past one to three years was donated or thrown away. Every elimination brought on feelings of grief and guilt, but fortunately I got my friends to strong-arm me into donating or throwing away those items.