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Minimalist in Style: Self, Identity, and Well-being in Japan

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In the present paper we propose that Eastern conceptions of well-being are minimalist in their emphasis on the idea of “nothingness.” They place a strong emphasis on the realization that everything in the world is transient, fluid, and thus ultimately incomprehensible. This realization, in turn, may be expected to afford experiences of gratitude and peaceful disengagement. To illustrate this proposal, we used data from two studies, which suggest that the two dimensions of minimalist well-being (i.e., gratitude and peaceful disengagement) are distinct in both Japan and the USA. Moreover, unlike in many existing measures of well-being, Japanese were at least as high as Americans in their minimalist well-being scores. Implications for self, identity, and optimal functioning are discussed.
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Keywords: Culture; Expanded positivity; Independence; Interdependence; Minimalist well-being

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Tokyo Woman's Christian University, Tokyo, Japan 2: University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA

Publication date: April 1, 2009

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