If you have trouble getting out of bed on a wet Monday morning, constantly smacking the snooze button, then finding your Ikigai might be your solution. Pronounced ee-kee-guy, it is the old Japanese philosophy that means ‘reason for being’ and is gaining popularity outside of Japan as a way to live longer and healthier. It’s origins come from the Japanese island of Okinawa (3 hours south by air from Tokyo) and is home to the largest population of centenarians in the world. So the proof is really is in the pudding. We know trends come and go as commercialism sees fit (we’re way over Hygee but still trying to live a lagom life) but Ikigai is grounded and real. It’s really not hard to love it’s concept.
Interestingly the Okinawans never retire. In fact there is no Japanese translation to the word ‘retirement’ because it implies you will cease to do anything. That’s why they believe in always being busy no matter what age you are. The Okinawans live by the philosophy of living in the moment; not over working but not fritting away your free hours either.
So what is your Ikigai and how do you find it?
Ikigai is actually a combination of your passion, your mission and your profession. It is the intersection of what you are good at and what you love doing. Sometimes the holy grail for a lot of us. It can be very clear to you immediately, but it could also be something you’re still looking for (which on its own may be your ikigai). It could be a hobby, a goal you are determined to achieve, your religious belief, your children or a loved one.
Get out a pen and paper and try to map your passion and focus by using the ikigai chart. You may be surprised by what you uncover.
Why Should you have an Ikigai?
Well because it gives you a purpose to live, to get the most of every hour and every minute of your day. Hector Garcia, author of the bestselling book Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life, believes having an ikigai helps you spend more time doing the things that you truly value. Understanding what it is that you value and love will help you filter out the grit that fills your day. For e.g by learning how to saying ‘No‘ to things you dislike or are not good at will give you the chance to lose yourself in the things that you love.
How to get into an ikigai ‘flow’
Ikigai is doing something where you heart is that gets you into a flow and helps you relax and enjoy the moment. So often when we lose track of time it’s because we are lost in something that we love doing. Have you ever been so absorbed that you have forgotten to eat or can barely hear the burble of noise around you? That’s your ikigai flow. It doesn’t have to be earth shatteringly extraordinary: watering your plants every evening or taking a paintbrush to a canvas. For us working on Morello is our ikigai – hours pass in the blink of an eye.
Stay active – never ever ‘retire’.
Slow down – do the important things, not the urgent things
Only eat until you are 80 per cent full – know when to stop
Surround yourself with good friends
Get in shape through daily exercise
Smile: be happy
Reconnect with nature – appreciate what’s around you
Give thanks to anyone and anything that brightens our day
Live in the here and now
Find your ikigai and follow it