Eastern philosophy is a treasure trove of knowledge. Westerners really only discovered it a couple of hundred years ago and started implementing the teachings of philosophy only in the last couple of decades.
But if you ever dive a bit deeper into Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Confucianism, Shintoism, and others, you quickly realize there are so many lessons that enhance your understanding of life.
So let’s do it! Let’s dive in deeper and learn what these important lessons are.
Eastern philosophies like Buddhism emphasize the practice of mindfulness. In fact, mindfulness meditation holds a central place within the Buddha’s “noble eightfold path” to end suffering and nurture wisdom.
If you’ve been living under a rock, being mindful means being fully aware of the present moment, without judgment.
In other words, you’re not on your phone doom scrolling and lifting your head from time to time to watch a TV show on Netflix.
By focusing on the here and now, you can reduce anxiety and stress, and find contentment in what’s happening right in front of you.
Instead of evaluating or criticizing what you’re experiencing, you simply acknowledge them with an open and non-critical awareness.
If that’s still too vague for you, read more about practicing mindfulness in our article 5 powerful ways to practice mindfulness in everyday life.
If you often wonder why there’s so much bad stuff happening in the world, the concept of Yin and Yang can help you understand that without the bad, there is no good.
It represents the duality and interconnectedness of all things. Understanding that opposites are complementary can help you navigate life’s challenges with a sense of peace and serenity.
Yin represents darkness, passivity, receptivity, and the feminine principle. Yang, on the other hand, is associated with qualities like light, activity, creativity, and the masculine principle.
They’re not opposing forces but interconnected and interdependent. But what does that mean for us?
In daily life, you need to establish clear boundaries in your professional and personal life to prevent one from overpowering the other.
Cultivate self-awareness by exploring both your strengths and weaknesses. Strive for balance between physical activity (Yang) and rest and relaxation (Yin) to maintain a healthy body and mind.
There are practically endless applications of this Eastern philosophy in life.
Detachment, or letting go, is a fundamental aspect of Buddhist teachings.
Detachment doesn’t mean apathy. It simply means you shouldn’t be too attached to material possessions, relationships, or outcomes.
By letting go of attachment, you can experience greater freedom and less suffering when things change.
Why? Because you aren’t 100% invested.
For example, you’re okay to let go of old belongings or not feel a strong emotional attachment to expensive possessions like your iPhone.
When it comes to expectations, you can hope for positive results in a situation, but you aren’t devastated if things don’t go as planned.
And my favorite lesson here is the detachment from past regrets and future worries. You should accept you can’t change the past, and there’s no point in dwelling on mistakes or missed opportunities.
Likewise, you shouldn’t be obsessing over future uncertainties.
Recognizing that life and all things are temporary helps you avoid becoming too attached.
Simplicity is a valued principle in several Eastern philosophies. Simplifying your life involves decluttering your physical and mental space. It’s about focusing on what truly matters, which can often result in greater clarity and purpose.
While we often associate Confucianism with social and ethical values, it also advocates for simplicity in personal behavior.
Confucius emphasized the importance of modesty, humility, and not indulging in extravagant desires. And so should you.
Compassion is also at the heart of many Eastern philosophies. It’s the practice of empathizing with others and acting kindly.
Many Eastern philosophies, including Buddhism, emphasize universal compassion. This means extending compassion not only to your friends and loved ones (which most of us do) but also to strangers, enemies, and even all sentient beings (which almost no one does).
It promotes a sense of interconnectedness and unity.
More importantly, compassion often has a ripple effect. When you’re compassionate to someone, not only do they benefit, but it also brings joy and fulfillment to you to.
Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, Jainism, and basically all other Eastern philosophies teach acceptance.
This teaches us to acknowledge and embrace what is. Without resistance or judgment. It can lead to inner peace and reduce the suffering caused by constantly trying to change things beyond your control.
For example, when facing the loss of a loved one, acceptance means recognizing and allowing yourself to grieve without resisting or denying the pain.
It means understanding that grieving is a natural process and allowing yourself to heal at your own pace.
We’ve all heard about Karma. Karma is a Sanskrit word that means “action” or “deed.”
It’s the law of cause and effect. It teaches that your actions have consequences and that making positive choices can result in a better future.
These consequences may be experienced in this lifetime or carried over to future lifetimes. That’s why, by understanding karma, you can become more responsible for your actions.
The examples of Karma are super simple:
Making healthy choices in terms of diet, exercise, and self-care results in improved health and well-being. On the other side, neglecting your health can result in negative health consequences.
Treating others with respect and consideration encourages positive relationships and pleasant social surroundings.
Disrespectful behavior can result in conflict and strained relationships.
Non-duality, also known as Advaita in Sanskrit, translates to “not two” or “nondual.” It claims there’s no inherent separation or division between the self (Atman or consciousness) and the external world (Brahman or ultimate reality).
In other words, it teaches us that the separation between self and others is an illusion. If we recognize the interconnectedness of all beings, we can have a sense of unity and compassion for all living things.
Which leads me to this popular concept:
9) Nature connection
Many Eastern philosophies emphasize how important it is to respect and care for the environment.
When we’re connected with Nature, we inevitably get a sense of environmental consciousness and responsibility.
That’s why we’re encouraged to protect and preserve the natural world for future generations.
Spending time in nature lets us connect with the natural world, which is, at least for most of us, deeply calming and grounding. It’s a way to find solace and inspiration in the beauty of the environment.
Nature also teaches us that nothing is permanent, which is something I already talked about above.
Buddhism teaches us the temporariness of all things. Nature is ever-changing, with seasons, weather, and the cycles of life and death.
Spending time in nature helps us accept and understand the impermanent nature of life, reducing attachment to temporary things.
Humility is another key concept in many Eastern philosophies and spiritual traditions. It plays a significant role in shaping one’s character and approach to life.
When we’re humble, we recognize our limitations and don’t claim to have all the answers. It’s all about being open to learning from others and from experiences promoting personal growth.
Eastern philosophies emphasize that imperfection is a part of being human. Humility allows us to accept our imperfections and mistakes without excessive pride or defensiveness.
Humility often expresses itself through simplicity and modesty in our lifestyle and behavior. Living a modest life and not flaunting your achievements is seen as a reflection of humility.
11) Inner fulfillment
And lastly, many Eastern philosophies focus on inner fulfillment. Seeking happiness and contentment within yourself means not relying solely on exterior sources for validation or joy.
By cultivating inner peace and happiness, you can find a lasting sense of satisfaction.
One of the key aspects of inner fulfillment is being content with the present moment (mindfulness) and what one has.
It’s about appreciating the simple joys of life and not constantly striving for more or better.
Do you recognize yourself in that previous sentence? Are you trying to enjoy the present and what you have, or do you constantly want bigger and better?
I learned a lot researching Eastern philosophies and am trying to implement many of the 11 lessons I mentioned above.
But for me, one of the most important Eastern teachings is Ikigai. It helps bring more purpose and meaning into your life.