What are the things that make me happy in my life?
How can I make them useful in my life?
Can I get all these to be successful in my life?
Humans have skills and things that they are passionate about. Some love doing them and are very good at it. But it doesn't necessarily get them to fulfill their everyday needs. Others are good at doing some work that can help them fulfill their needs. But they are not happy or passionate about doing them.
In both the case scenarios, the passion and financial needs are not met. And even if they do, there is no buyer for that or a person who can value what you have to offer. All these are covered in a concept developed by Japanese people, which is called "IKIGAI."
What is Ikigai?
Ikigai is a Japanese term that roughly means the purpose or reason of one's being. In a way, it is a practice that strives to connect and balance the practical and spiritual aspects of an individual's life. One can also say that it has the approach of one's life's mission. One who understands the true meaning of Ikigai will always be happy and cheerful in life.
The process to achieve this balance is attained by the intersection of an individual's passion and talent with what the world needs, and you are getting paid for it as well. Japanese people believe that finding your Ikigai can get you a happy and balanced life. Ikigai is the reason that makes you look forward to each day. A purpose for what you leave in the bed every day.
For some people, their life mission or life purpose is crystal clear. They know the reason for their existence and what they are here to do. However, the population of such people will not be more than 2% of the world. Most of us do not know what we are supposed to do in our life. What is our calling?
Here, the concept of Ikigai can help you, even though it can be confusing. It focuses on four main aspects:-
● Mission: What do you love doing
The mission is what makes you useful, what you can do to make a difference in the world. When you make a worthy contribution, you are seen as admirable from all the spectrum of life.
● Vocation: What the world is in need of
Given your abilities, qualification, personality, experience, and skills, what you are most suitable for. In a way, this can be described as your calling.
● Profession: What can get you paid
The things that you are capable enough to be paid for. What makes you more productive. Your profession shall be the collective outcome of the other three aspects.
● Passion: What you're good at doing.
This is your inspiration. This is the thing that will make you feel alive and excites you. This is what keeps you going throughout your journey.
Again the base of this whole term is to achieve happiness and fulfillment in one's life. And these four factors focus on that. We all have experienced a dilemma in our life. We want to live a meaningful life, but we also want to enjoy a life full of money. This compromises our happiness.
Ikigai intersects/connects these two options keeping in mind and analyzing the above four points. A similar concept called 'Enlightenment Entrepreneurship' also works in a similar manner.
Things That Stops You From Finding It
There are many factors that are responsible for you not finding your Ikigai. But the one at the core of it is your mindset. Like,
➤ You don't believe your passion is great for a career.
➤ It is hard for you to leave your job for your passion.
➤ You don't have time for it while fulfilling your responsibilities.
➤ You think it won't make you money.
➤ You are not confident enough to go after your passion.
What Can You Do To Find It?
We all have an ingrained mentality that money brings happiness and fulfillment. And we just blindly follow this, even if we don't feel it right in our heart. We are made to think that we are only of worth if we have successful and money-making jobs or careers. One will think it is extremely important to make money to have an impact on the world.
While this belief is not completely invalid but honestly tell how many people can relate to or follow those who have a huge amount of money?
On the other hand, in general, people are more influenced-directly or indirectly by those who are following their passions.
Do you know why?
Because we see them happy doing that. And isn't happiness our ultimate life goal?
Ikigai, too focuses on the same. To discover it, you need to discover the things that you are the most passionate about. Then comes the step to find the mediums that can help you fulfill your passions throughout life.
We opt for the jobs or work that we think are good for us. We keep in mind that this job is going to make my financial responsibilities easier. And we just do that. But how many of us can admit that the job we are currently associated with is what we are passionate about.
Forget about being passionate about it; do you even like it enough to do that your whole life? Not many rights!?
However, Ikigai is not only related to your work. Ikigai is attaining joy and fulfillment without compromising the daily routine of your life and finding a balance with all these.
Passion can mean very different things for everyone. Passion is what you live for. What makes you feel alive or human.
Most of us just relate it to work or career. While that notion is not wrong, the work we do is not related to everyone's passion.
There are people whose passion is their family and loved ones. They are the ones that make them feel happy and fulfilled, which is what Ikigai focuses on. For some, having freedom is their passion. Without that, they are not happy.
I have a mentor. His passion lies in helping people. And he is good at writing as well. So now he has connected these factors to be successful. He is now a consultant and also has written self-help books. Both these things help him in making money and fulfilling his passion. He cannot be any more happy!
In the concept of Ikigai, every aspect of your life is connected. And the perfect alignment and balance of them will make you happy. It is possible to have a passion and turn it into means that can also help you financially. And also provides you with feelings of peace and happiness that will help sustain you throughout life.
In his book Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life, Spanish author Francesc Miralles explains Ikigai very brilliantly. He was influenced by the Japanese very much, and that made him write this book. The concept of Ikigai is the most practiced in Okinawa, Japan. These people have the Guinness record for longevity.
The people over there have a few set of rules they follow to achieve longevity.
1. Do Not Retire. We should not give up on things we love doing, or else we lose our purpose.
2. Leave Urgency Behind. When this is done, it changes the meaning of life and time.
3. Do not overeat. They only eat until they are 80% full.
4. They have a tradition of "maoi," meaning a support system of an informal group of connected people having the same interests.
5. Maintenance of the body.
6. Having a positive attitude.
7. Express gratitude every day, even for a moment.
8. Live in the present.
9. Reconnect with nature.
10. Have a sense of purpose.
The whole concept of Ikigai is based on finding one's life purpose. When we do not have a purpose, our existence becomes frustrating to you. However, this can be a great catalyst for you to find your purpose finally.
We generally spend our whole working and doing things for others and barely sparing a moment for ourselves. We make compromises all throughout and do not know what we are meant to do. So we need to find our Ikigai.
The first step, as mentioned, is to find purpose. This can be done by starting out by finding things you love doing. It can be any activity from swimming, painting, gardening, sewing to finance management, repairing, teaching.
Your life purpose doesn't have to be something big and flashy, but it should be enough to make you happy when you connect all four:- passion, mission, vocation, and profession you have found your Ikigai.
You need to practice mindfulness and introspection to achieve your Ikigai. It is a crucial part of living one's life. To know your inner self. Humans are ever-changing and ever-evolving beings. Hence this process is for a life-time. It is a commitment to yourself.
How To Know You Have Found Your Ikigai?
Finding your Ikigai is tricky and confusing. The core purpose of finding it is related to happiness. But that is not just the thing about it. Because many people are yet to find our Ikigai, but they are still happy in their lives. At least we believe we are.
Ikigai is different for different people. It can also be applied to our daily lives. So there are a few characteristics to know that you have attained your Ikigai.
A healthy body is one of the key ingredients for a happy life and also for Ikigai. And to achieve that, you need to practice exercising and eating healthy every day.
Like mentioned before, the people of Okinawa only eat up to 80% and do not fill their stomachs up to the brim. They also have a diversity of food in their diet that can reach 200. And you also need to exercise on a daily basis.
Keep variations in them if you do not want to get fed up with them. It will benefit you in different ways and will keep you interested as well. You will be thankful to yourself in your later years.
You also need to focus on keeping your mind and emotional being healthy. It starts right from the moment you wake up and till you go to sleep.
For this, your aim is to do things you love a short time after you wake up. Have a morning tea, go for a walk, see the sunrise, take your dog on a walk. This is going to freshen your mood and fill you with enthusiasm for your day ahead. Meditation and feeling gratitude are also great options.
Another important term here is ikigai, Ichi-go Ichi-e, which means the idea that every moment is only lived once. So enjoy the moment while it lasts. Also, the term wabi-sabi means to make the best out of your life's imperfect moments. Live life to the fullest!
This is the most important one among all. It includes celebrating others and maintaining a healthy relationship. This you can achieve by making a habit of telling your friends and family that how grateful you are to have them in your life. Don't let negativity prevail between you and them when things are not good on both sides. Try to remember the good times when this happens.
Maintaining a healthy relationship with your own self is just as important. When you are not happy with yourself, you will not be happy with others. And you cannot even do things to make them or yourself feel good.
So yes, you should also appreciate yourself just as you do to others because you are going to spend your life with yourself.
Above all, take pride even in the smallest things you have relating to your relationships and life in general. Spare a moment every day to practice gratitude. You will be aware of many blessings you possess in your life but never really noticed them. This concept is called Kodawari in Japanese.