26 Jun “How Can Ikigai Help You To Lead A Happier And More Fulfilling Life?” By Martin Wright
Last year, I experienced a health crisis when I found out I needed major heart surgery. Although I knew that the operation was a common procedure, I did have the genuine anxieties of facing my mortality, and reevaluating my “Whys” and important goals in my life. I have certainly been applying Advance’s techniques to set and achieve goals these past few months, and I’m reading around the subject of motivation and “being” with a new insight of a near death experience.
Recently, I read Ikigai:The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life by Hector Garcia which highlights a philosophy on life to follow which are very similar to many of Advance’s techniques.
Ikigai basically means the reason for being, encompassing joy and sense of purpose. Ikigai can be translated as “a reason for being” – that thing that gets you out of bed each morning. Finding your ikigai is felt to be crucial to longevity and a life full of meaning in Japan. Your ikigai is not necessarily one passion in life – it may change or remain the same.
The book starts with a Japanese Proverb which sets the tone of the book.
“Only staying active will make you want to live a hundred years”
This proverb seems very fitting following the announcement by Sir David Dimbleby who is stepping down from hosting Question Time after 25 years at aged 79 – not to retire, but to return to his first love, his Ikigai, reporting. He is the embodiment of this proverb – his reporting on politics is his passion and his reason to get out of bed and pursue his work and interests each day.
The author Garcia explains from his 13 years living in Japan that there is no Japanese equivalent of the word “To retire” – in giving up work. Their culture is built around older people taking on less responsibility but working on their individual and often vital contribution in their community such as continuing to use and teach their specific artisan skills.
By following the simple rules from Garcia’s experiences of Japanese culture and society, we can certainly ensure our lives are more fulfilling on a daily and more permanent basis.
1 Get rid of things that make you fragile. These can be anything or anyone that makes you potentially feel vulnerable. Avoid spending time with toxic people, don’t do things because we feel obliged to do them or to fit in with people, especially if we don’t enjoy doing them. A current issue at the moment is limiting time on social media which is known to have a negative effect on our self esteem and mental health. The author recommends a day of technological fasting each week – just think of the extra time and focus you would have on that day!
2. Stay active – don’t retire. Those who give up the things they love doing are more likely to lose their purpose in life. Research has found that staying in the workplace just one extra year has an 11% decrease in death from all causes. Finding our ikigai to remain active with a purpose enables us to have focus, goals, social interactions, and a sense of achievement. Our ikigai may be a charity, participating in sport, music, art of theatre – it may be volunteering or a different paid job.
3. Take it slow. When we leave urgency behind and take time to look at life, life can take on new meanings.
4. Don’t fill your stomach. In order to stay healthier longer we should all eat a little less than our hunger demands instead of stuffing ourselves and then wishing we hadn’t.
5. Surround yourself with good friends. Good friends are the best medicine, They listen through the good and bad times, some one to laugh with someone to cry with. Invaluable
6. Get in shape for your next birthday. If not your birthday choose another day that has meaning and once you are in shape following Number 4 above will be easier. Remember it is proven that exercise releases hormones that make us feel happy and we all want to be happy.
7. Smile. It’s relaxing and helps make friends
8. Live in the moment. Stop regretting the past, it’s in the past and cannot be altered. Stop fearing the future. Today is what we have. Live it and make the most of it.
Follow your Ikigai. We all have a passion inside us, it’s what makes us who we are. Perhaps you don’t know what your Ikigai is yet. Make it your goal, your mission to find it and live it to the full.