The search for meaning is inherent in the human being. In Japan there is even a specific word to define the importance of having a purpose in life: Ikigai. The Ikigai refers to the individual motivation, the one that makes us get out of bed every morning and that gives us the joy of living.
There is no direct English translation. Ikigai does not need not be conducive to fame and fortune. It is simply the priority around which everything else (often unconsciously) revolves.
For some, especially artists or high professionals, this sense of dedication is related to their vocation. There are few things as fulfilling as doing meaningful work, but even those who do not have a career-related Ikigai find purpose in the daily routine.
Ken Mogi, in his book The Little Book of Ikigai: The secret Japanese way to live a happy and long life, tells us that Ikigai is made by five pillars:
- Starting small
- Releasing yourself
- Harmony and sustainability
- The joy of little things
- Being in the here and now
A basic idea of Ikigai is to be in the flow. Do you remember when you were a child, you were playing and your mom was calling you for lunch? You did not want to go because you did not want to stop playing , you liked playing so much and it was always too early for you. Time flew away so fast and you did not even realise it.
Being in the flow is like that. It means being in harmony with the elements within ourselves and those in the outside world. It means also paying attention to the chances that life offers us.
Ikigai‘s greatest secret is to accept ourselves as we are, with the unique traits we received when we were born.
“I love and accept myself as I am” is a positive statement that I have been repeating for years. You are a unique and unrepeatable individual who must find your own way among the obstacles of life.
Try to answer these questions:
Which are the small things that make you feel good?
Which are the small things that help you to face your day?