While the pandemic has changed our daily lives for over 6 months, you may have spent a lot more time this year thinking about what you really want in life. Maybe you even made some good resolutions during the lockdown, or you looked forward to being free to go out. End this year 2020 by taking care of yourself, by infusing in this new daily life, ikigai, a Japanese philosophy of life, an invitation to happiness and to give meaning to our life.
Find your ikigai, find happiness. Here is in summary a very beautiful Japanese philosophy that we should all apply!
A way of seeing life … ancestral
This Japanese philosophy dates back to the era Heian (794-1185) and has been motivating Japanese people to get out of bed in the morning for centuries or almost. Composed of the word “life” (iki) as well as the somewhat difficult concept to transcribe in French “value of doing an action” (gai), ikigai translates that, by giving value to our actions, our life makes us happy.
Do the Japanese apply it really every morning ?
No, of course. It is a concept, certainly Japanese, certainly old, but especially popularized in the field of personal development. Articles on the pursuit of happiness through the discovery of one’s ikigai are particularly popular in Japanese women’s magazines.
It is also a favorite subject of Japanese variety shows, journalists do not fail to interview the centenarian communities of Japan. In Kyotango, on the side of Kyoto, a television report highlighted that people over the age of 90 indulging in their passion daily have high levels of DHEA. It is a hormone known as the “longevity hormone”. So, is doing things that make you happy the key to a long life? Scientifically, everything remains to be proven, but our “common sense” tells us that this is not a bad theory.
There is, however, a Japanese region where ikigai is, it seems, really applied to the daily life of the inhabitants. This is the Okinawa archipelago, known to have three times more centenarians than elsewhere. In Okinawa, the Japanese live at a slower pace than on the main islands of Japan. They even overshadow the famous French quarter of an hour late by arriving at their meeting when they see fit.
Finally, if this little word has already reached you, it is because, easy to pronounce with a hit concept, this idea of ikigai has been exported very well abroad.
Ikigai is all about harmony between you, your needs, and the world you live in.
Easier said than done, Ikigai teaches that in order to give meaning to our life, we have to work on our perception of ourselves, our real needs and the needs of the world. A balance to which we all unconsciously aspire and which the rhythm of modern life quickly puts us by the wayside.
To get back to the basics, you need to start thinking about your qualities and what you like to do. You should also research how you can provide for your material needs by engaging in activities that appeal to you and consider whether this meets the needs of the society in which you live.
Where is your ikigai located? At the crossroads of these four dimensions. What my husband candidly calls “his raison d’être”.
3, 2, 1 apply ikigai daily
How? You will tell me. Well, first of all, by not disrupting your lifestyle first. Trying to change everything at once is likely to overwhelm you more than anything else. Change is anxiety. We are ritualistic creatures. So the best is to take it little by little, starting with what makes you feel good. Find a new hobby, develop a new skill that is close to your heart, do a little sport, cook a new recipe …
One strategy applied by ikigai followers is to take time for themselves before starting their day, which is in the morning. This is a great time to do some meditation, yoga, jotting down in your journal, reading … Find yourself with your thoughts.
During this period when many of you have willingly or unwillingly experimented with teleworking, starting the day with your mind already on its books weighs on your energy and your morale. So take care of yourself in order to take better care of the world.
What meaning do you give to your life?
I have noticed that this philosophy seems frequently taken up, sometimes diverted, as a technique for managing professional life. But it doesn’t matter whether his ikigai (“what motivates us”) is a career, a family or a sabbatical. It is above all an invitation to refocus on the present moment and to take pleasure in what we do.
This year 2020, particularly hard morally, has perhaps provoked in you a lot of questioning. Perhaps you are even confused, losing your bearings and meaning. This philosophical concept is then the perfect invitation to take over the reins by becoming aware, little by little, of your current situation.
- What do you do on a daily basis?
- Do you like to do this?
- Does it bring anything positive to the world?
- Are you good at what you do?
Finally, ikigai, which gives meaning to our life, obviously evolves with it. What you love to do is changing at every stage of your life. A lesson that the Japanese centenarians of Kyotango were able to teach viewers: they all found their passion once they retired.