Why I Ikigai
What is it all for? What makes life worth living? If these are questions you have asked yourself you may find the answers by simply finding your Ikigai. The japanese term "that which makes one's life seem worth living." Ikigai is what, day after day and year after year, each of us most essentially lives for.
Ikigai for a longer life
Okinawa is the place with the highest life expectancy on Earth. People there live longer and age better than people in any other part of the world. One of the reasons for this is Ikigai. The Japanese believe that each person has an Ikigai and research shows it effects life expectancy.
Your Ikigai doesn’t need to be spectacular. It can be rather simple. Caring for your children, Volunteering for a cause or the love of your profession which is a calling that is more than just a paycheck. In Okinawa you can find people in their 90s who are still actively pursuing their Ikigai, whether it revolves around their family or their work or a hobby. However, it can be hard work to figure what yours is so you may need to do some soul searching in order to find it.
Having such a powerful sense of purpose effects aging and longevity. It may lead one to have a more positive view of themselves. As long as you can still pursue your Ikigai as you age, this sense of purpose should never die or diminish. Such a positive perception of aging has been shown to lead to a longer lifespan.
Finding your Ikigai
My ikigi has changed over the last 40 years. It has gone from spiritual growth, to personal growth and my work in the design field to a time entirely dedicated to my husband and children.
Don't confuse pleasure with purpose. You may enjoy doing something that doesn't fulfill you in a meaningful way. Your ikigai should be meaningful. It doesn't have to be easy or headache free. It has to be something that you do because it gives you a sense of purpose. For instance, eating ice-cream may be fun, but it has no purpose besides a momentary enjoyment. Volunteering at a homeless shelter may be heart-breaking and hard, but it can also fill you with a sense of accomplishment.
Main Principles of Ikigai
First, Never stop doing something that fuels you. Even past retirement you should find passions that will be useful to others and pursue them.
Second, Cultivate friendships. Passions should be shared. It's more fun if you have an artistic passion to do it with others. Friendship is a spiritual family that you have to take care of all of your life.
And finally look after your body and mind. Avoid negative news and people and create environments where you are spending time with people that nurture you.
It is a simple as that. Find what makes you happy, what makes you feel good and do it. When you don't feel good you are out of balance. When your living a life according to outside expectations you are out of balance.
So meditate, sit quietly and ask out loud what makes you happy that also makes you feel good about yourself at the end of the day and pursue it with all you have.
Love from CBDNA
For further reading, Ikigai, The Japanese Secret To A Long And Happy Life is out now, published by Penguin