Together is more than just a word (© Julia and Gil)

Together is more than just a word

Two Japanese words: kyo (共) and sei (生), which literally mean ‘co-living’, are the foundation of Canon’s corporate philosophy of Kyosei – living and working together for the common good. This philosophy shapes a belief in seeing all people living harmoniously and working together to contribute to a prosperous society. It underpins the Canon vision for sustainability and conduct as a responsible corporate citizen.

But beyond our company activities, Kyosei influences the way we operate within the wider community, encouraging us to be mindful of how our work impacts our customers, employees, partners and the world around us. ‘Kyosei’ is written on Canon office walls around the world. Colleagues see it every day as they walk through the corridors to get the next essential cup of coffee. They might give it a nod as they pass, or perhaps simply walk by, such is the way in which it is naturally part of the fabric of Canon life. Often, when we are so used to seeing or hearing something, we can forget what it actually means – and more importantly, we forget to think about how it might relate to us as individuals. But it deserves a moment of thought, regardless of which company you work for or brand you walk past every day.

How can we all live ‘Kyosei’?

It’s a philosophy that could easily take centre stage as a way of living, if we stop to think about what it is trying to tell us and how we interpret it outside of a corporate environment. How can it aid us at a personal level in living a more mindful and compassionate life? And how can it help us to connect with the people around us?

Perhaps this single Japanese word can inspire introspection and let us pause for a while and allow the mind some space to gain perspective. By looking closely – really closely – we may be able to see it in a new way and find the inspiration to let this philosophy filter into our own existence and way of living.

Friends sitting together around a fireplace.
We are not alone.

It’s about community

It is easy to become focused on our own worlds: ‘my things, my work, my day’. Often, we forget that ultimately, it’s not so much about ‘me’, but more about ‘us’. In cities, we live in buildings with more floors and apartments than we can count. We co-live, but without knowing the names of those next door to us. We can be surrounded by a sea of people yet be lonely. In our fixation on our own inner stories, it is easy to forget to help our neighbours – or even our own families. We should remind ourselves to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.

So, let us pose some questions: what if we could see less ‘me’ and more ‘us’? How would this change the way we live our lives? With a new perspective rooted in the philosophy of Kyosei, could we be reminded to pay more attention to the community around us? We might see the impact we make on society more clearly or find joy in the discovery of cultures we are not familiar with. If we’re lucky we might get to know people we didn’t expect to meet.

When crisis occurs, amidst the worst of drama, humans have a natural instinct to come together, providing support, praise and help. This unity and collaboration can be incredibly powerful. If we each focus on how we can help those around us and look at what we can give back, then we could be much closer to making an impactful difference.

A simple change in perspective can add a deeper purpose to how we live.

Be mindful of the world around us

Kyosei encourages all of us to contribute to the prosperity of humanity while protecting the world we share. If each of us takes responsibility for the impact our activities have on the environment and tries to adopt a sustainable way of living, we can make a positive difference. Perhaps we can all take more care when choosing what products to buy and take a mindful approach to how we use energy and manage waste.

Pause. Observe. Breathe. Then repeat.

Slowing down gives us more time to consider what is happening around us and within us. With awareness comes new perspectives – what if we took a moment to observe other people, outside of our own little bubbles? The little things have more impact than we think, like taking a minute out of your day to say “Hello. How are you?” to someone you don’t know that well. We can forget to take time for those around us and slowly lose the ability to listen without rushing, but by adopting an observing and accepting mindset, we can form a new appreciation for those around us.

What change do you want to make?

Images have the power to spark positive change, and how we tell our stories can make more impact than we think. What do you want to tell the world? Letting Kyosei inspire our creativity might have an exciting impact on our visual storytelling. Asking big questions can inspire a single simple image or a lifelong path of many.

By adopting aspects of the philosophy of Kyosei into our own way of living we can each play a part in ‘living and working together for the common good’. It becomes more than a corporate philosophy, but part of a lifelong journey of discovery founded in a simple fact: that we are not alone. We are part of a global community and the grandness of this is something worth dwelling on. Kyosei inspires a positive way of living, helping us to be more compassionate to our world and the people in it.

Written by Cecilie Harris

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