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

 

Niksen-The Dutch art of doing nothing

niksen

It’s always amusing when a single word from a foreign language kick starts an entire lifestyle trend, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Sometimes all a person needs is a little bit of inspiration, or a spark of encouragement, to make changes they’ve been craving all along.

Do you remember hygge, the Danish concept of coziness that captivated people’s imaginations?

Or lagom, the Swedish idea of living in moderation and friluftslivb- the concept of open-air living?

And more recently one heard of dostadning, a.k.a. Swedish Death Cleaning, or the act of slowly and steadily decluttering one’s home as the years go by.

And now another word is making its way into wellness headlines, and this time hailing from the Netherlands.

The word is ‘NIKSEN‘ and it “literally means to do nothing, to be idle or doing something without any use.

Why is it so valuable, you may ask? Well, for one, it stands in stark contrast to the way in which most people live these days, rushing around from dawn till dusk with an unending to-do list.

The duties never end. We do this, despite knowing how unhealthy it is, depriving us of downtime, of sleep, of time to think, of time spent with family and engaging in hobbies.

Whereas mindfulness is about being present in the moment, niksen is more about carving out time to just be, even letting your mind wander rather than focusing on the details of an action.

Practicing niksen could be as simple as just hanging around, looking at your surroundings, simply sitting in a chair looking out of the window, or listening to music —as long as it’s without purpose, and not done in order to achieve something or be productive.

Studies have shown that niksen offers emotional perks — like reducing anxiety — to physical advantages — like curtailing the aging process and strengthening the body’s ability to fight off a common cold.

Another benefit of niksen is that it can help people come up with new ideas, when we do nothing; our brain is still processing information and can use the available processing power to solve pending problems, which in turn can boost one’s creativity.

For many, doing nothing isn’t as simple as it sounds. In fact, it can be somewhat challenging to sit still and stare out a window when one is used to doing something at all times.

But then one has to dare to be idle. It is all about allowing life to run its course, and to free us from obligations for just a moment. We need to train our minds to wander in a way that’s imaginative and creative. Some “gateway” practices to niksen could be taking a walk in nature, gardening, and reducing tech tine or just meditate.

Niksen gives a name to a concept I already embrace at home. I adore lazy weekends with my family, when there is nothing on the docket and nowhere to be. My favorite evenings are the unscheduled ones, when I can lie on the couch and read a novel. I suppose one might call that productive, but to me its pure idleness and I love it.

Niksen is the antidote to stress and burnouts.

Niksen is giving you permission to hibernate without an intention.

Niksen is taking time off to embracing life’s pauses.

 

M

 

 

OS:PC-Treehugger