If we seek meaning in life, we need to be a learner for life. There are many resources that make us reflect – an experience, an interaction, a WhatsApp message, an Instagram story, an event, a movie and of course, a good book.
Ikigai is not just a good book. It is a Japanese concept that means ‘ a reason to live.‘ Creative minds express this concept in myriad ways annotated with beautiful interpretations. The simplicity of these expressions gives ample diet for the mind.
Human beings have always been on a quest to find out more about living longer and of course, living better. Blue zones are places having communities blessed with longevity and good health. One such zone is Okinawa in Japan, a picture perfect island with a high number of centenarians.
Héctor García & Francesc Miralles explore the wisdom of the people in Okinawa and believe that the path to contentment lies in finding your ikigai.
There are ten ways to find your ikigai, according to the authors:
1. Stay active – don’t retire
Japanese do not use ‘retire’, in the sense of ‘leaving the workforce for good’, like in English.
2. Take it slow
This is important as we are taught to multitask, the faster the better. When you slow down, you are more focussed.
3. Don’t fill your stomach
Again this is contrary to the popular belief that we must eat till our stomach feels full.
Connect with the people around you. Work for the community, as a community.
Gentle exercises or movement done consistently promote well-being.
6. Surround yourself with good friends
Interacting with good people is very important.
7. Reconnect with nature
This is imperative if we have to find solutions to the challenges we face.
8. Be grateful
Express gratitude to your parents, your teachers, family, friends and nature for nourishing and enlivening you every day
9. Live in the present
Do not regret the past or fear the future. Just live in the moment.
10. Unique interest
What fascinates you? How will you cultivate that interest, which is unique to you?
Like most words in Sanskrit, there’s no word in English for the Japanese word ikigai. It roughly means the “thing that you live for” or “the reason for which you get up in the morning.”
For most Japanese, ikigai is not a grand goal, but woven into their routine. Kodawari implies meticulous work with pride. Kodawari is an integral part of ikigai. There are parallel analogies in the Indian ethos. Take for instance, the rangoli or kolam. Many people draw this every day with artistic diligence, and are fully aware that the design is temporary and will give way to the next, new design the following morning. People who follow Ikigai know that all things are transient, yet they do it with extreme diligence and feel content.
In the book by Ken Mogi, there are many examples of people following their passion with singular focus. They do it because they want to perfect their work, not necessarily for the money it brings. The joy of doing something with interest produces exquisite work. And it is okay with people following Ikigai to not get their works recognised or make it to the Hall of Fame.
Doesn’t this sound like freedom? When you don’t want someone else to validate your work or recognize and appreciate all that you do? – Journal Jotting
When was the last time you got completely immersed in the work you were doing? It can be cooking up a nice meal, working on a project, making notes in class, playing a sport….the list is endless.
Ikigai is a beautiful concept to find a sense of purpose. Every author interprets this differently. The venn diagram that is widely used, to depict ikigai might not be the correct illustration. Ikigai is to enjoy the small things in life, with utmost focus on what interests you.
Life is a precious gift – have you discovered your Ikigai yet? – Journal Jotting