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Kintsugi and the Art of Self-Care


Inspiration, when least expected, can change us--and deeply change us for the better. Do you remember meeting someone new for the first time and having your life changed by this friendship and love? Have you visited a new place, foreign from all your past experiences, to then have a profound effect on how you view the world at large?

As someone who cares deeply about these transformative experiences, over our lifetime, it is impossible to avoid any tragic loss or sidestep harrowing disappointments. With these rich experiences and relationships as a backdrop to our modern day society, managing these inevitable fluctuations that impact our daily mental wellness can mean the difference between powering through difficulties and drowning in self-defeat.

Kintsugi, the Japanese art of repairing broken ceramics, teaches us that broken objects are not something to hide but rather to display with pride. It is not only possible to repair but also provide a new lease on life to pottery that becomes even more refined thanks to its “scars.”

As a female, Asian-American immigrant, technologist, serial entrepreneur, and someone who has personally struggled with stress, anxiety, and depression, I have a genuine interest in helping others with tools rooted in cognitive behavioral therapy, natural language processing (NLP) machine learning, and a community of high quality, local therapists to support your personal growth and mindful wellness.

Thank you for your interest and letters of support! 

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Much Love,
Grace Chang
Founder and CEO of Kintsugi Mindful Wellness

The picturesque view outside my train window in transit from Tokyo to Kanuma, Japan in June 2018.

The picturesque view outside my train window in transit from Tokyo to Kanuma, Japan in June 2018.

My Journey and Inspiration

In June, I recently returned from Japan, inspired and in awe of a culture different from any other I had visited. In the past, I had traveled to 14 countries, most in part due to my graduate studies at UCLA in emerging markets. I've always had a fascination with entrepreneurship especially in the most fragile environments. Though my 13 day trip seemed long in the planning, both weeks in Tokyo flew by.

I was traveling for a short holiday with my significant other in a country I had never before visited. Adventure! What caught me off guard was that people were effusively warm and caring. We arrived in Tokyo, jet-lagged from San Francisco and as we emerged out of the Shibuya train station, one of the world's busiest, thousands of people poured into the late evening crossing. For a brief harried, claustrophobic moment, I thought I had made a mistake.

The next morning, we walked to Yoyogi Park from our Ryokan in Shinjuku, and as we approached the entrance, a well-dressed business man walking out of the park then turned and deeply bowed towards the gates. Initially perplexed, I was moved by the gesture of respect for nature.


Incredibly, every day in the first week grew more joyful. Each new friend went above and beyond to make us feel welcome, and I am still thankful today for their graciousness.

The honor in care for nature, people, and culture was distinct and memorable. In the second week of the trip, we had come upon a design exhibit, 47 Repair and Care where thematic examples of kintsugi were on display from fine ceramics mended back together with gold etching, embroidered patchwork on worn aprons, and other beautiful works of repair from the 47 prefectures of Japan.

Kintsugi and the art of making a broken object more beautiful by its repair was an idea I had been yearning to feel in the west for a long time. 

It's often surprising to me how such concentrated doses of being flung out of routine can have such life changing effects. The people of Japan had changed my outlook on life and reframed my perspective on where I wanted to make meaningful impact.

In the first decade of my career, I focused on learning the ropes of large corporate entities and making progress on my analytical specialization as I climbed that corporate ladder. In the second decade of my career, I flourished as an entrepreneur

in developing new products with elite engineering teams, experimenting with hundreds of ideas against the market to find the right solution to human problems of organization, communication, identity, and connection.

In the last twenty years, there have been immense successes and failures.

In February, I sought help and therapy from Kaiser, an American healthcare provider, for stress, anxiety, and depression. The first appointment available was in June. Had I been in an even more dire situation, the four-month delay would have been catastrophic. The following appointment was immensely helpful, however, the next availability was in late August.

I never want anyone to feel that loss of agency, deep isolation, wounded despair, and self-defeat.

Seeing first-hand attention to care restore hope so readily to us in Japan was inspiring. Today, I look inward as I think about happiness, mindful presence, productivity, and connecting with others. 

The neuroplasticity of our mind continues to be a fascinating area of research, where we can actively shape the physical development of our brain based on behavioral input.



Meditation, CBT, and Managing Conflict

By allowing yourself time to reflect, you give yourself permission to care for your mental well-being. I wanted to develop Kintsugi Mindful Wellness to help others reflect and reflect often. By leveraging  natural language processing (NLP) machine learning, we can transcribe our spoken thoughts into a range of positive to negative sentiments to provide visibility on our thought patterns and emotional tendencies. 

Meditation and the act of being mindful and present can have short-term and lasting benefits. Providing the techniques, tools, and reminders from journaling to meditation to identifying and restructuring cognitive distortions is at the heart of our application.

Thank You

I am grateful for the love and support of my friends, family, and community at large. I am inspired by your stories and thank you for being here today. You could have spent it anywhere, but that you wanted to focus on mindful wellness for yourself is something you should feel proud of.

We’ve experienced a loss of connection, hyperindividualism, and obsessive concern for meritocracy. We’ve had 60 years of individualism in this country and we’ve sort of run out the string on that one.
— David Brooks, New York Times