Oubaitori and Other Things

Alpengluhen – Alpenglow – “a reddish glow often seen on the summits of mountains just before sunrise or just after sunset.” In this case, Gabriola Island looks across the Coast Salish Sea to the Sunshine Coast and Coastal Mountains. One of my favourite views. Thanks, Gottfried. (If you aren’t aware, you can see the entire scene if you click on the banner photo.)


My friend sent me a link to a new Japanese word that describes a concept. Oubaitori. She knows that one of the things I like are words that contain a deeper meaning, like ikigai, for instance. We could translate the word ikigai as “a reason to live,” according to Google Translate, while, in fact, the word has multiple significant meanings. Many books have been written about ikigai, which is more of a philosophy of daily life. According to Nick Kemp, a Western expert on Ikigai, ikigai “indicates the sources of meaning in your life: experiences, people, relationships, dreams, hobbies, and even memories…that make your life worth living.” (from his book Ikigai-Kan)

I also like this description by Yukari Mitsuhashi- “the sum of small joys in everyday life, resulting in a more fulfilling life, as a whole.”(from her book Ikigai)

It isn’t just the Japanese

that have words which contain a depth of meaning not easily translated into English. Take this German word – gemutlichkeit- which translates as coziness. But in Austria and Germany, it contains nuances not readily available in English. Wikipedia captures it better – “it conveys a state or feeling of warmth, friendliness and good cheer. Other qualities encompassed by the term include peace of mind and a sense of belonging and well-being springing from social acceptance. ( community and companionship) ” Much more like Ibasho,” another favourite Japanese word/concept I wrote about earlier.

When I investigated Oubaitori, I discovered that it represents a concept I deeply value: not comparing yourself with others. It is a word that comes together from the Kanji for the four trees that bloom in spring: cherry blossoms, plums, peaches and apricots. According to the Japan Times: ” Each flower blooms in its own time, and the meaning behind the idiom is that we all grow and bloom at our own pace. It is a reminder that everyone has their own journey through life, and we should focus on our growth, not compare ourselves so much to others, and celebrate our individuality and uniqueness.”


Coincidentally, this very week, I came across this supplemental piece of advice from an old book:

“When we plant a rose seed in the earth, we notice that it is small, but we do not criticize it as “rootless and stemless.” We treat it as a seed, giving it the water and nourishment required of a seed. When it first shoots up out of the earth, we don’t condemn it as immature and underdeveloped; nor do we criticize the buds for not being open when they appear. We stand in wonder at the process taking place and give the plant the care it needs at each stage of its development. The rose is a rose from the time it is a seed to the time it dies. Within it, at all times, it contains its whole potential. It seems to be constantly in the process of change; yet at each state, at each moment, it is perfectly all right as it is.”

—Timothy Gallwey  The Inner Game of Tennis

The Seven Ways to be Miserable.

In the past, I taught a workshop on The Seven Ways to be Miserable. Sounds like a fun time. Right?:-))

However, just one of those seven ways contributes a lot to misery – unnecessary comparisons. And you only have to glance at a billboard, ad, or Facebook to see all the ways you don’t measure up and how you could be happy if only…you bought this, went there, lost ten pounds, had a better spouse and a million other things the marketing machine has on tap for you to have a better life. And every new year, we are bombarded with self-improvement suggestions.

It isn’t only comparing ourselves to our colleagues, friends and neighbours. We do it to ourselves. We can be shocked by creaky knees, sickness, and less energy. What are we doing wrong? Where has our energy gone? How come I now look like my Mother?

Hidden Potential

I love being 77 – choosing to reduce my expectations, trusting myself, and having no need to solve the world’s problems.  I no longer think that I must  “rise” to every occasion. Whew! And I fully recognize my delightful ordinariness and have no more pretensions about discovering my hidden potential.” What a relief.

It also allows me to enjoy work that I love and spend inordinate amounts of time (in person and online) with my grandchildren, family and friends.  I consider this my reason to be here. And even though my days are full, I rush slowly, as my friend Helga once advised me. (not all the time – life has its own plans)

The big problem with comparing ourselves to others is that we become more dissatisfied or more smug. We will be better off or worse off than the next person.  So, I have found relief in accepting myself and others, warts and all, just as we are. This, by the way, does not mean imposing our bad behaviour on others. I know that you know what I mean. Obviously,  kindness and courtesy always go a long way. But it is coming to grips with who we are and liking what we find.


1:) Life will bring you pain all by itself. Your responsibility is to create joy. – Milton Erickson, M.D.

2:) I am sure you are desperate to see an updated photo of my twin great-granddaughters  (Isabelle and Evelyn) at five months old.

3:)  “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

4:) Please remember, dear reader, that anything I write is my view and life experience. It is not prescriptive.  Just keep what resonates and let the rest go. There is no formula, and no one else knows what is best for you. Trust yourself.

5:) May you sing while there is  voice left, and I always, always wish for your good health, strength, courage and joyful moments. So many thanks for stopping by to read my blog post. With appreciation and gratitude, Trudy

PS I heartily invite and welcome my German, Austrian and Japanese friends to correct my understanding of these words/concepts. You are free to jump in.




13 replies
    • T Boyle
      T Boyle says:

      It is ok Janet. I hope this means you liked it. haha. Enjoy these beautiful eagles and mountains from your Island. All the best, Trudy

  1. Jean
    Jean says:

    Beautiful photo,yes,I clicked on it. And thank you again this week for my Wednesday bedtime read.lots to think about as I drift off. Those baby girls are adorable. As mothers we remember how precious they are becoming.discovering so many wild and wonderful things.thank you for picture.take care dear freind.stay warm as we all hunker down for old man winter.

    • T Boyle
      T Boyle says:

      Thank you dear Jean. I read that it is frigid in Calgary this week. Staying inside seems to be the best plan. Warmest wishes, Trudy

  2. Janice Klein
    Janice Klein says:

    Kudos for celebrating ordinariness in all its glory.
    I believe in the joy of ordinary moments that are treasured and accepting ourselves as we are.
    I’ve worked at not comparing myself to others rather focusing my energy on the path I want to. take. Comparisons often lead to discontent and steal our precious energy.
    What a joyful photo of your twin great granddaughters. How exciting for you.
    As always I appreciate your insight and find it refreshing.

    • T Boyle
      T Boyle says:

      Thank you Janice. You are so thoughtful to take the time and send these kind words. I hope all is well for you and yours in 2024. All the best, Trudy

  3. Sabine Kaspari
    Sabine Kaspari says:

    So delighted to see wonderful German words in your post – thank you for this, Trudy:-)
    With your post I resinate a lot, as it still is one of my struggles to not compare this with that, him and her, me and others – hahaha. At least I meanwhile recognize this “Rumpelstielzchen” in me and can hug it and tell it, to be a bit more kind to all others and it(my)self;-) This ability has a lot to do with Linda’s & Gregg’s and YOUR influence and I am deeply grateful for your presence, your work…
    With love

    • T Boyle
      T Boyle says:

      Hi dear Sabine: Always a joy to get words from you across the sea. I picture your beautiful wonderland alongside the Bavarian forest. You do have a habit of spreading joy and I deeply appreciate it. It makes me smile, right now picturing your face filled with sunshine. Sending love, trudy

  4. Janice+Falls
    Janice+Falls says:

    Stunning photographs, all. Thanks for your thoughts on oubaitori. When I was younger and prone to making comparisons in which I inevitably fell short, I came across this quote: In a world of individuals, comparison is a senseless activity. It shifted my perspective and expanded my life. Now I, too, a mere 2 years behind you, love my age and who I am. love you too xoxox

    • T Boyle
      T Boyle says:

      Love that quote, dear Janice. Thank-you. It is so easy to intellectually reorganize that unnecessary comparisons are not helpful, yet our minds love to do their own thing. Still, we learn, and like Sabine said, recognize the “Rumplestielzchen” who is always causing trouble and take it as a sign to be generous to ourselves and others.Hey, speaking of comparisons, our cold day looks pretty balmy when compared to Alberta.:-) Take care, Trudyxo

  5. Wendy Rudnicki
    Wendy Rudnicki says:

    So many interesting ideas and references and beautiful photos, especially those precious baby girls. I always enjoy and learn from your posts: thank you for them. I’m also 77 and trying to figure out what’s normal at this age (especially knees) and what needs to be attended to. I did a deep dive into Milton Erickson years ago when doing a grad psych degree–he was brilliant imho. I’m also reminded of a quote I love credited to Itzhak Perlman when one of his strings broke mid-performance and he continued to play–something like: “It’s what you do with what you have left.”
    Namaste and Blessings,

    • T Boyle
      T Boyle says:

      Hi Wendy: Thank you for your thoughtfulness. I love your story of Itzhak Perlman, when one of his strings broke – can you image this, mid performance…and here he is, “It’s what you do with what you have left.” I so appreciate this wonderful piece of advice and it fits perfectly within the work I do. Warmest wishes and blessings back to you, Trudy


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