As life happens, we naturally pick up responsibilities and build routines. We go to school, work, gym, blah, blah blah. Everything is fine for a while until one morning we suddenly wake up and ask ourselves, “What am I doing with my life? Am I even happy? Do I feel fulfilled?”
I recently read about ikigai, (pronounced ick-ee-guy – if that’s not the cutest word I don’t know what is) a Japanese concept that roughly translates to “reason for being.” It’s what makes us energized for every new wakening day. Kind of like carpe diem, but with intention. Our ikigai drives us to feel inspired and motivated to lead a purposeful life.
Fortunately, many of us are becoming increasingly sensitive to the feeling of fulfillment. Take millennials, for example. They are more inspired to work for a purpose than a paycheck. Money isn’t bad or evil, but is it worth slaving away at your desk completing meaningless work to have a bit of cash? Many are saying no.
A study shows that having a sense of purpose in life even lowers your risk of death and cardiovascular disease. The reason? Scientists say that having something to live for provides you with a sense of vitality and resilience. Therefore, you are less susceptible to the detrimental effects of stress and anxiety.
Take it from the hundreds of centenarians in Okinawa, one of the Blue Zones in the world. They, too, believe in ikigai. In combination of a healthy diet, daily movement, and a tight community, having a reason for being is key to living a long and healthy life. It’s not just the red wine and sex that leads to longevity after all.
Some of us are lucky enough to find our purpose at a young age, while many of us spend years trying to find it. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, it affords us the opportunity to explore many different paths in life to eventually land on the right one.
So, how do I find my ikigai?
Your ikigai, or sweet spot, can be found at the intersection of these 4 things:
- What you love
- What you’re good at
- What the world needs
- What you can be paid for
Hector Garcia, the co-author of Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life writes, “Just as humans have lusted after objects and money since the dawn of time, other humans have felt dissatisfaction at the relentless pursuit of money and fame and have instead focused on something bigger than their own material wealth. This has over the years been described using many different words and practices, but always hearkening back to the central core of meaningfulness in life.”
To further find your ikigai, continue exploring your curiosities! Sometimes we fall in a rut where nothing sparks excitement, but don’t stay there for long. Take action to explore a new city, pick up a new book, attend the event you initially declined, or try a new workout. Channel that child-like feeling of innocence and wonder.
Don’t expect your ikigai to appear overnight. It’s a lengthy journey that involves a lot of introspection and experimentation. Think of it as a fun, mysterious game to find the gold treasure! In addition to self-reflection, turn to close friends and family. They know you best and can give further insight on your strengths, values, and joys.
Forever be in pursuit of that thing that makes you jump out of bed in the morning. Listen to your intuition and follow your curiosities as they lead you to fulfilled and joyful life.
“Our ikigai is different for all of us, but one thing we have in common is that we are all searching for meaning.” – Hector Garcia
Have you found your ikigai? I want to know! Drop me a comment below 🙂 Have a happy weekend!!