I’m a researcher, an investigator, a lover of information. Give me an afternoon free, and I’ll either be reading a book or surfing the net on my iPad, looking for a new idea.
That’s how I came across the concept of ikigai.
To the Japanese, “ikigai” is used to indicate the things in life that make it worthwhile. It includes the things we value, from the little joys in day-to-day living, to the life-defining goals that give our lives purpose.
If you do a search on ikigai, you’ll find that westerners have simplified it into a Venn diagram that will provide you with the “secret” to a long life. The Westernized version is based on the convergence of four questions:
- Are you doing something that you love?
- That the world needs?
- That you are good at?
- And that you can be paid for?
Westerners are programmed into associating who we are with what we do. Have you ever started a conversation with:
Hi, I’m Lori. I’m an author and writer. What do you do?
Yep, we’re all guilty of it. But that doesn’t get to the root of who we are.
Ikigai gets more to the root of our being.
Nicholas Kemp has an amazing amount of information online about Ikigai. In his article Ikigai Is Not A Venn Diagram, he states.
To find your ikigai, you just need to listen to your feelings. Your feelings never lie. They will tell you what makes your life worth living.
Because our ikigai speaks through our feelings. We can learn as we satisfy the different needs we have in life:
- Life satisfaction
- Change and growth
- A bright future
- Interpersonal relationships
- Meaning and value
Ikigai will never stay the same from year to year, decade to decade. It will change as we morph and change into who we are to become.
When we reach midlife, we ask “what’s next” to move toward our second act
I won’t become an expert in ikigai anytime soon. But the approach was interesting to read about. Something we’re often too busy even to contemplate as we rush around here in the states. Nicholas Kemp stated that when we find ikigai:
We find purpose in our lives, meaning in what we do, freedom in our day-to-day living, and personal growth as we proactively engage with those around us.
Sometimes daily life gets so chaotic, we do little more than react, never proactively planning for what’s next.
I think that’s why a lot of us wake up in midlife, and wonder: what the hell do I do with my life now? What’s next?
When you start contemplating life, you know this isn’t how you want to live. But what do you do to get to the life you truly want? It’s not like you can throw your hands up and leave it all behind. You still have a life to manage while you figure stuff out. While you try and find a sense of value and meaning in your world.
I always return to the advice I learned from a mentor years ago.
He asked: Are you happy? If the answer is no, what will it take to get happy?
A new car? A new relationship? More money? A bigger house?
Then he stated: If it takes something to reach happiness, you’ll never truly be happy. There will always be one more thing to strive for.
Because happiness can’t be reached by achieving some goal in life. Happiness can only be found from within.
What you do each day matters
Years ago, I learned one simple act that has changed my life for the better. Every morning, I meditate and journal before I start my day. I listen to a positive message from one of my meditation teachers. Then I follow it up by journaling what I’m grateful for.
Positive morning rituals set you up for a positive day. Even when things go all wrong, you approach life differently because you live in a different state. To find value in day to day living, I’ve focused on three things:
Being present allows you to notice more of what is going on around you. When I walk by the river in the morning, I’m always amazed at the number of people with earbuds in, talking on the phone, or looking down at their screens. I walk. I notice the color in the trees. The smells from the flowers popping up from the ground. The call of the eagles flying in the distance. The feel of the sunshine beating down on my face.
Being present evokes feelings from within. You feel richer, dig deeper for those feelings, and become aware of more that’s going on around you. You notice what your child is saying, your spouse is communicating, and your friends are saying, sometimes without saying anything at all.
Being present adds a richness to your life you’ll never get from multitasking. Ever.
Approach with kindness
Whether you’ll have a good day or a bad day is all up to you. You choose whether to say I love you or I hate you. You choose to smile or to frown.
And how you approach your day impacts those around you.
For one day, show the world kindness. Hold the door open for someone. Tell someone you like their dress. Pay for coffee for the person behind you. Send someone an “I’m thinking of you” greeting card.
It doesn’t take long to show an act of kindness. But the act can make a world of difference to them … and you too.
Change the first hour of each day
I remember a time when I smacked my alarm clock over and over again, not wanting to get up. When I did, it was rush-rush, trying to overcome getting up late. It set the stage for my entire day.
I now rise by five, meditate, journal, and do a few yoga stretches in my first thirty minutes of the day. I grab some tea, and spend more time writing. I don’t use an alarm clock. I love getting up early, before anyone else in the house. It’s a time I can spend on myself, and I enjoy every minute of it.
It also sets the stage for the rest of the day.
Those minutes where I’m totally centered doing what I love, it gives me the power to be the best me I can be for the rest of the day.
What gives you power? What do you enjoy more than anything?
Have you always wanted to write? Or want time to work on yourself?
It won’t happen … unless you make it happen. To find value in your day-to-day life, you have to change your approach to living.