What’s your IKIGAI?

Diagram of Japanese ikigai concept

Things have been extremely difficult for all of us for the past few months. No one would have ever anticipated this pandemic that has gripped our lives.

We have all some time or the other heard stories of war, partition, epidemics and holocaust from our parents/grandparents. And now as we grope to come to terms with this situation I am sure this story of our own struggle and survival will be shared with our own grandchildren.

However , as we continue trying to find some semblance into our ‘not so normal’ life and coming to terms with our new reality , there’s no better time than now to refocus our energies, and really plan out our hopes and goals for the future.

While most of the world’s population is struggling with unemployment and loss of life of their loved ones, we are still trying to find the truth of our own reality and are looking out for a better way to fully embrace everything life has in store for us.

Enter ikigai, the age-old Japanese ideology. A combination of the Japanese words “iki” which translates to “life,” and “gai”, which is used to describe value or worth, ikigai is all about finding joy in life through purpose.

In other words, your ikigai is what gets you up every morning and keeps you going.

The origin of the word ikigai goes back to the Heian period (794 to 1185). Clinical psychologist and avid expert of the ikigai evolution, Akihiro Hasegawa released a research paper in 2001 where he wrote that the word “gai” comes from the word “kai” which translates to “shell” in Japanese.

During the Heian period, shells were extremely valuable, so the association of value is still inherently seen in this word. It can also be seen in similar Japanese words like hatarakigai, which means the value of work, or yarigai ~ga aru , meaning “it’s worth doing it.”

“Gai” is the key to finding your purpose, or value in life. Basically it’s all about overlapping four main qualities: what you are good at, what the world needs, what you can be paid for, and of course, what you love.

Many sociologists, scientists, and journalists have researched and hypothesized the usefulness and truth behind this particular phenomenon, and they’ve come to a number of very interesting conclusions. One particular theory is that ikigai can make you live longer and with more purpose and direction.

What’s your ikigai?

Each one of us has certain habits that shape our day. Our routines of daily activity form what’s most important as you begin each day to what’s not.

It could be doing some form of exercise early morning before doing anything else or praying as you wake , followed by getting all the normal things one does sets the pace for the routine as the day advances.

I start mine with yoga followed by my hot steaming cuppa chai and reading the newspaper.

And then I get down to my blogging, or any other writing, for about an hour or so. That way I have dedicated time to my health and one of the activities that give ikigai to my life- which is writing. This gives me a sense of having accomplished in doing something I am passionate about. I then get to organize the day and all the other random things.

You have to understand one thing- ikigai is not always about financial endeavors. Having a hobby that you can dedicate your time to, raising a family, or being able to work and make steps towards diving deep into that passion project you’ve always fantasized about, are all ikigai.

If you’re feeling lost or unsure about what your ikigai is, there are a number of ways to refocus your mind and purpose.

It doesn’t matter whether “you are a teaching, the mother of a newborn child or a Michelin-starred chef’ – if you can find pleasure and satisfaction in what you do and you’re good at it, congratulations you have found your ikigai.”

Basically all you need is to “gain awareness of the current status of your life.”

Don’t fret if you haven’t found yours yet. Just go with the flow of life. Research has uncovered that just like music taste, fashion and, opinions, a person’s ikigai can change and morph with age. And it’s never too late to start doing anything at any age in life and then enjoying it .

Now, when the world order is changing, it’s time to refocus on yourself, your passions and embrace the larger picture that is life.

]f you can find pleasure and satisfaction in what you do and you’re good at it, congratulations you have found your ikigai.

Madhavi

 

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