In this day and age, time is everything. We often get lost in our daily routines, having to be especially intentional when we want to have our me-time or quality time with our friends and families. We go to work, we say “hi” to the same people — the ones we spend at least 8 hours with — every single day. We might even get to a point where we come in and don’t say anything to each other anymore, because we know they’ll continue to be behind that same exact desk the following day, and the day after that.
Let’s be honest — we drag ourselves through our working hours sometimes. We take this part of our daily routine for granted, and let it fly by without making much use out of it. We step into our offices with only one thing on our to-do list: to complete our tasks for the day, and then we wait for the weekend to come to live out our lives.
Yet, it has been proven that what we spend most of our time doing will shape us… that who we spend most of our time with will shape us.
For this very reason, our workplace becomes a place where we go to, not just to work. But it’s also where we grow, where we learn, and where we are shaped to become who we are.
And so, this part of our daily routines can be meaningful and truly be enjoyed if we realise how important it is for us to build relationships at our workplace. Every moment we spend with our colleagues, even at work, matters in shaping us to become our true selves. These people are the ones we share with, play with, and explore new things together with.
So, we decided to set aside some time to explore Japan together.
Japan is a popular holiday destination. Beyond just their delicious food and beautiful scenery, the people and culture are truly fascinating. We came home from Japan with a renewed mindset, all because we spent a few days in a culture that is so pleasant and inspiring.
Here are some life lessons we’ve learned in Japan:
1. To show (and not just tell) our respect.
Respect is a form of awareness of the other people who are around us. One phrase that we heard often from the Japanese is “gomen-nasai”, which translates to the word “sorry”. Saying this shows that people are aware of how their behaviour affects other people around them, showing respect toward the comfort of others. Even saying “itadakimasu” before a meal is a way of respecting the people who cooked it, the farmers who grew the ingredients, and even the food itself. And, showing respect is as important as saying those magic words. For instance, people bow when they greet each other. Being on time is also a form of action that shows respect toward other people’s time.
2. To make the details matter.
The Japanese’s attention to detail is reflected in the everyday things. How their food is packaged, how the public transport are meticulously clean, and how the gardens are arranged. There is something soothing and comforting that sprouts out of this ground of sophistication. It tells us so much about human behaviour: that we will always enjoy cleanliness, order, and excellence.
3. To improve ourselves as a first step to the betterment of the whole nation.
In Japan, they are very aware of the importance of the individuals’ contributions to the whole nation. No matter who they are, everyone is expected to recycle. Every household matters. If they randomly spot a piece of rubbish on the streets, they are encouraged to pick it up even if it’s not theirs, as a reflection of their attention to detail. Everyone is expected to be kind to one another, to not annoy or disturb the people around them as a sign of respect.
Coming home from Japan, we are closer to each other now than we were ever before. This trip has made us realise something: that we can always be grateful and enjoy each other’s company, despite the storms that we face in each of our lives.