Oubaitori (桜梅桃李): The Art of Shunning Comparison

Human beings are social beings and comparing oneself to another, is common among each. 

Social media posts attend to highlight things we lack or don’t achieve in life. These apps are essentially comparison traps that encourage us to question aspects of our own lives.

It’s easy to overlook that social media is a highlight reel of other people’s lives. We notice them in their best moments, but don’t often witness their struggles.

We usually compare our lesser qualities with someone's best qualities, skewing our judgment.  That is where the art of Oubaitori comes into the picture. 

So what does oubaitori really mean?

Oubaitori (pronounced oh-buy-toe-ree) is a popular Japanese idiom that comes from the kanji for the four trees that bloom in spring: cherry, plum, apricot, and peach. They bloom together, but all in different manners. That's why the concept of oubaitori is complementary to the concept of Ikigai - it's all about taking the time to assess your own unique character, traits, and capabilities.

The Japanese principle of Oubaitori is a conceptual guide to a fulfilling life based on trees.

Each flower blooms in its own time and is a reminder that each person is on their own journey through life. Basically, this Japanese idiom means that people shouldn’t live their lives comparing themselves to others, but instead cherish their own unique traits and focus on their own growth. 

Why is it essential to embrace oubaitori?

Comparing one’s individual self to others on social media and in real life can be a trigger. People choose to share with others what they want to be noticed, so it’s essential not to judge yourself harshly when looking sideways at others, because you don’t have all the details.

How can you practice the art of oubaitori?

It can be challenging to think of practical ways to apply a certain concept to your life. However, we have broken the art of oubaitori into some steps.

1) Kindness to self

It is recommended to keep track of things that bother you. If you can remind others to be kind, it's high time you do the same for yourself. You need to actively challenge these negative thoughts. Think about how you would challenge your loved one’s beliefs if they told you they were comparing themselves harshly to others.

2) Avoid negativity

We recommend taking account of your strengths and wins regularly, focusing on cultivating kind self-talk, and if you must compare anything, compare yourself now to a younger version of yourself who had yet to complete all what you have now accomplished. Take pride in your growth and how far you’ve come and own your life.

3) Get rid of distractions

Being mindful of the things you consume is one way you can prevent yourself from falling into this comparison trap, especially given that social media is often an exaggerated form of reality. A pro tip is to unfollow those accounts that make you feel negative about yourself and cause you to linger on them for a long time. People curate their lives on social media and it's crucial to not let yourself feel disempowered by it. 

In a nutshell:

Extending the concept of oubaitori to life, it’s apparent that everyone’s life is different and each one has a unique path to cross. Our values, beliefs, experiences, choices, perspectives, successes, and more importantly, our failures, shape a different path for each one of us. 

The art of oubaitori just simplifies this for us!


Written by Sara Ayoob

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