Ikigai; The Japanese Concept about Self-discovery and Longevity of Life.

Ikigai; The Japanese Concept about Self-discovery and Longevity of Life.

Ikigai means finding the balance between your passion, mission, profession and vocation. More intimately, it is finding your purpose in life, living a life filled with service to humanity, enjoying your profession with passion and getting rewards out of it in the form of equivalent remuneration.

There is a whole debate that can crop up regarding what is enough pay for your service in employment, including self, which in a nutshell I can equate to getting enough to offer you a comfortable life by meeting your basic needs as well as having an extra for savings to insure the future.

A lot of people work daily towards achieving their ikigai moment. Others are forever seeking to discover their passion, mission and purpose in life in a bid to move closer to attaining the meaningful and happy existence that the ikigai concept promotes, yet it is not as easy as it may sound.

Up to this point, I am unsure if the Ikigai concept helps us to attain the balance of the four essential elements of life or if it acts as a roadmap by which we can attain the balance. The first means the concept becomes a tool which we can strictly follow and get there. The second one means that the concept appreciates the diversity of our situations and only serves to help us have an idea of where we ought to be and offers insights on how to get there with a strict appreciation that our destinations are varied too.

Whatever way we may look at it, the difference in terms of how we decide to use the concept is minute. The end simply points towards finding meaning in our lives and perhaps living longer and happily simultaneously. Who doesn’t want such a life?

Ikigai and the daily little things.

Reading through the lines on what the whole concept is all about, a keen reader and seeker cannot miss to discover that the ultimate attainment of a meaningful and happy existence is an accumulation of small daily steps intentionally taken towards that goal.

Ikigai is about what you already know. The point now is to practice it.

For instance, the ikigai concept of eating up to 80% of your stomach fill must be an intentional thing that one should take. From a personal observation, I have noted that many people overeat either unintentionally, or intentionally due to a lack of discipline. Or perhaps their goals are different.

It is not uncommon to find an already overweight person overeating and wondering at the same time why they are not losing weight and for heaven’s sake they don’t go exercising whatsoever. In a nutshell, however awesome the whole ikigai concept sounds, there is a lot of discipline that is needed if someone has to attain the promise the concept presents.

Ikigai is not about a relaxed lifestyle.

I may begin with some mind-boggling questions to help us race our minds. Would you prefer a stress-free lifestyle or one with small manageable stress levels? What about living a life where all you need to do is sit and do nothing the whole day? Would you love that?

It is easier to confuse a life of inactivity with happiness and meaning. Ikigai, however, promotes the idea of living a life with low levels of stress rather than a fully relaxed lifestyle and earlier retirement. I have read for a long time now in Kenyan papers, (no scientific evidence though) that a lot of people who are in employment die shortly after retirement.

Over time, we curiously decided to try and find out what could be the reason, and it didn’t point far away enough from what Ikigai could be hinting at. A life of inactivity is a life destined for doom. Employed people, especially those not in self-employment can resort to complacency and a fully sedentary lifestyle after employment which can result in several lifestyle-related diseases.

Ikigai denounces a lot of sitting and promotes a life of activity. Instead of driving to the shop to pick up your groceries, you can cycle or better still walk. While going a few floors up in the office, take the stairs instead of taking the lift. It also notes that a little stress is better than no stress at all. In simple terms, it points to the importance of exercising. And that is not a new concept.

Why are you not Committing Suicide? 

Imagine walking into an interview room and the first question you are asked is, why are you not committing suicide or rather why have you not committed suicide? That will catch you off guard, but it is the best way someone can try and find out if you have figured out your purpose in life.

But what is the purpose? Finding purpose means you have figured out what makes you tick and inspires you to get out of bed every morning and live, go to work without being forced and do what is expected of you for the benefit of humanity. The same thing that makes you do something and enjoy it and never feel like you are working or under push to do so.

So, in a nutshell, ikigai is not a rocket science thing. It is a simple thing of taking and making deliberate actions every single day all in a bid to take charge of your life. Not any actions but the right actions for that matter. Perhaps it is something you are already doing but the magic point is not to give up.

So, Keep moving towards discovering yourself and importantly, I wish you get to live a long life filled with happiness and meaning.

Geoffrey Ndege

Geoffrey Ndege

Geoffrey Ndege is the Editor and topical contributor for the Daily Focus. He writes in the areas of Science, Manufacturing, Technology, Innovation, Governance, Management and International Emerging Issues. For featuring, promotions or support, reach out to us at info@dailyfocus.co.ke
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