Finding our “ikigai”

Ikigai (sounds like ee-key-guy OR icky guy LOL) is Japanese for your life purpose or passion. The Japanese term it “why I get up in the morning.”

I’ve been mulling this over a lot over the past couple of months. Why do I get up in the morning? It certainly isn’t because I’m a morning person because I’m really not until I get going. Can you say coffee?

I think back to a few years ago when I was on my quest, my happiness project. Yes there is also a book by that name. It was hit or miss at times but I got a lot out of my endeavors. It is just a fact that life’s struggles do reveal knowledge and growth if we allow it. The hard times, the bad feelings, the depression, the feeling of the odds being against us – these things prune away all the dead branches of our life, making us simple, honest, and real. The difficulties help us to see what is truly important in our short lives. We also easily forget and neglect these valuable life lessons over time as we go about our everyday living.

They (philosophers, psychologists, and others) say happiness is a choice. I would venture that happiness is also action. I’m not saying we should all be running around with blissful vacant stares acting as if nothing upsets us – that is not happiness. And true happiness comes from inside ourselves not from temporal external things. The actions of happiness are habits that connect us to our true or higher self. These actions vary from individual to individual but there are a few that are standard.

  • Practicing gratitude – even amidst turmoil and struggle we have so much to be grateful for, we in the “first world” don’t worry about potable water, having basic necessities in life – unless we are homeless (another blog post.)
  • Practicing faith in your higher power – dare I say it, God. Including meditation, prayer, or just getting quiet.
  • Taking care of our flesh suit – exercise in some form, eating real food, treating ourselves with care.
  • Helping others – not in an enabling codependent way but in a healthy “I’m here for you”, “I got your back”, “You matter” kind of way.

Happiness is in what we do daily it isn’t some far off fantasy land in the future. There is no life hack or cheat sheet that will get us on the golden path and keep us there. It is truly a walk of faith and practice, falling down and skinning our knees. But it isn’t just the falling down it is in the getting up. I think Ikigai is whatever in life gets us back up. It is the ethereal “thing” we do in the morning that gets us excited about living another day. It isn’t necessarily our job, thought it could be, ¬†or our family, though it could be, or our art, though it could be. No books can tell us exactly what it is – we have to find it for ourselves. It is paradoxical. It can be simple or complex.

On this journey for our ikigai I am starting a “30 days to Thrive” experiment. Life is about experimenting and learning – in my humble opinion so that we can enrich or help the lives of others. This next 30 days I am going to practice five things for five minutes each and every day. I invite you to join me on this experiment. After all I can do anything for 5 minutes right? Five minutes out of the day isn’t much right? I can give myself this much time. I am doing five different things for 5 minutes but you can do only one thing, it is your choice. My five things are:

  1. Yoga
  2. Meditation/prayer/gratitude
  3. Jumping rope
  4. Writing
  5. Practice guitar

While I don’t think these things are necessarily going to make me a better person I know they are habits that can enrich my life, and hopefully help me find ikigai.

Got ikigai?

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