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Oubaitori: Lessons From Trees!!!

The Japanese names for Japan are “Nippon” and “Nihon”, translating to “the suns origin” or “the place from which the sun rises” which is why we often refer to Japan as “the land of the rising sun”.  It’s an interesting country, steeped in tradition with a culture that appreciates the small things and places a high value in consideration and politeness to others.  There are many aspects of Japanese culture that if practiced throughout the world, would make our world a better place!

One such aspect is the Japanese idiom “Oubaitori,” which reflects on four trees that bloom in the spring—the cherry, apricot, peach, and plum.  Each tree has its own unique qualities, blossoms in its own way and time, bears distinct flowers and fruits, and is valued for what it is. Oubaitori reminds and urges us to avoid comparing ourselves to others and to embrace our unique journey, blossoming in our own time. It is a wonderful lesson, derived from the trees… who would have thought!!  At the heart of Oubaitori lies the recognition that everyone, much like these blossoming trees, has their path of growth and development. The cherry, with its blooms, does not compare itself to the apricot’s blossoms, nor does the peach envy the plum. Instead, they flourish independently, celebrating their unique features and contributions to nature’s grand tapestry.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we looked at ourselves and others that way? How often do we get caught up in comparing ourselves to others and trying to “keep up with the Joneses”?  Focusing on these comparisons hinders our personal growth, limits our perspectives and can impact our self-esteem. It holds us back from our true potential.  Instead of exploring new opportunities and taking risks, we may become preoccupied with trying to outdo others or feeling envious of their achievements. Additionally, constant comparison may distance us from others, reducing empathy and connection as we fail to see them as individuals with their own struggles and successes. I am firm believer that competition is good, but comparison in this manner is not healthy for anyone!

So, rather than indulging in comparisons, why not consider embracing Oubaitori, the spirit of non-comparison?  Just as the apricot doesn’t rush to bloom when the cherry does, we should focus on our own timeline of growth and progress. The beauty of Oubaitori lies not only in its application to individuals and organizations, but in its reflection of the harmonious relationship between humans and nature. Just as nature’s diverse trees come together to create breathtaking landscapes, Oubaitori encourages us to celebrate our differences and embrace diversity, fostering unity and understanding among individuals and communities.

Like the cherry, apricot, peach, and plum, let us bloom in our own time, sharing our distinctive beauty and bearing the fruits of our efforts for the betterment of ourselves and society.  This weekend I plan to reflect on Oubaitori. Why don’t you join me?


“A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it. It just blooms.” – Zen Shin


Have a great weekend.