Have you heard of the word Ikigai? Ikigai is, in fact, a Japanese word meaning ‘the reason for living.’ People sometimes feel disappointed, lonely, frustrated, or unworthy. I have often come across people saying that they are bored with their life, they don’t have anything to do with their lives except for the daily routine tasks, and they get bored with it. It’s right for everyone. If there is nothing unusual in your life, you get bored and frustrated. You lose hope and become disappointed, which will slowly lead to a state of depression. We often hear about people suffering from depression. They don’t reach that stage in a day. Multiple factors and reasons pile up each day, leading them to depression. People undergo depression because they don’t find a purpose in life. This is a pretty lousy stage to reach. You need to diagnose it and overcome it before it hits you badly. This happens to people mostly when they get middle ages and start to grow old. When you are young, you are full of energy, you have a job, you have a family to take care of, and you have a purpose for living. Each day you have something to look forward to. You will be overwhelmed by your responsibilities that you don’t have time for anything. But as you grow old, your responsibilities reduce, your kids become independent and leave you to settle their own lives, you retire, and there is no major task that’s awaiting you. This will make you lonely, and slowly you will reach a stage of disappointment and unworthiness. You often become frustrated and eventually drop into depression.
Here comes a magic word that can help you out of the difficulty you face right now or meet soon. The magic word is ‘Ikigai.’ Ikigai is a concept originally from Japan, and it means the ‘reason for living’. Iki means life, and gai means value or worth.
There is a rural town called Ogimi, in the Japanese island of Okinawa, which is known as the ‘village of longevity,’ with so many centenarians and supercentenarians living there. Japan is known for having one of the longest living citizens in the world. The average lifespan for the Japanese people is 87 years for women and 81 years for men.
According to the Japanese, everyone has an Ikigai that they carry within them. Some have already found it while others are still looking for it. Those who discover their ikigai have everything they need for a long and joyful journey through life. Our ikigai is deep inside each of us, and finding it requires a patient search. According to those born on Okinawa, the island with the most centenarians in the world, our ikigai is the reason we get up in the morning.
If you can clearly define your ikigai it would bring satisfaction, happiness and meaning to your life. Many Japanese people never really retire. They keep doing whatever they love for as long as their health allows. Our idea of retirement simply doesn’t exist there.
According to the scientists who studied about the five blue zones, or the five islands in the world with the longest lifespan, the key to longevity are diet, exercise, finding a purpose in life (ikigai), and forming strong social ties – that is, having a broad circle of friends and good family relations. They manage their time well so that stress is reduced. They consume little meat or processed food and drink alcohol in moderation. They don’t do strenuous exercise, but they move every day, take walks and work in their vegetable gardens. They walk rather than drive.
Now let’s see how to find the Ikigai. First of all, you need to realize and believe the fact that you are born with multiple talents. Human beings are a powerhouse of immense potential. We carry superpowers within ourselves that many of us fail to find out. It is our task to connect with the real powers that we carry. Just recollect what we used to love as a child and think of all the activities that make you happy. You can ask your family members and friends to find out more about your interests and skills. List out all the things that interest you. Think of the skills you used to have as a child. If you can build your career on your passion and the skills that you hold, you will start enjoying your job or, in other words, that will become your Ikigai.
Your ikigai is a point where the following elements overlap:-
What you love
What you are good at
What the world needs
What you can be paid for
Some people enjoy social service and helping others. Definitely, it’s a great thing to do. But the problem arises when you are unable to support your living, or when your main job becomes a burden for you, you will eventually withdraw from the social services you were into. This will bring stress and dissatisfaction. The idea is to try to align your interests and passion with the job you are doing and try to make a living out of it to enjoy what you do. You will be able to find the utmost happiness of life, or in other words, you will find your Ikigai.