The Japanese philosophy of ikigai is one of the oldest philosophies in existence. Ikigai is a word translated to mean “a reason for being”. Having a definite life purpose is linked to the high life expectancy of the Okinawa Japanese people. In this article, I will discuss the proven ways to find your ikigai and ten tips for achieving long and rewarding life.
What is Ikigai?
The authors of “Ikigai: The Japanese Secret for a Long and Happy Life” discussed how ikigai connects one’s mission, profession, vocation and activity. In addition, they sought answers to the reasons for the high life expectancy in Japan.
The Ohgimi village, located in the northern part of the main island of Okinawa, has the highest average life expectancy in the world. There are more than 100 villagers who are 90 years old or older out of a population of 3,500. Some of these residents are supercentenarians aged more than 110 years!
Why is it essential to have a sense of purpose in life?
There are many reasons why having a sense of purpose in life is essential. For starters, having a sense of purpose can help us grow in all aspects of life.
But the most crucial reason to have purpose senses that it gives our lives meaning. Many supercentenarians attributed a definite sense of purpose to their longevity and happiness.
What are some things you can do to find your ikigai?
To find ikigai, consider the following four aspects.
1. Consider what you love to do.
Finding ikigai can be a challenge, but it’s worth taking the time to explore what makes you happy. First, consider what you love and what brings you joy. It can be anything from writing to playing music to spending time outdoors. Don’t forget to think about your talents and skills as well.
What do you love doing? What do people come to you for advice about?
Once you have a general idea of what ikigai might be, start exploring different options. You might find that an activity or passion that once brought joy no longer exists. That’s okay!
2. Consider what you are good at.
It can be helpful to consider what you are good at. For example, many people enjoy working with their hands. They may be interested in a trade, such as carpentry or welding. Other people may have a talent for writing or public speaking. Still, others may be great at developing new ideas or organizing people and projects.
You don’t need to be an “expert” to pursue your passion. You only need to be two-step more knowledgeable than others to teach them.
3. Consider what the world needs.
It’s essential to consider what people are struggling with and how your business can help. An excellent start is getting your customers to identify the job they wish you to do.
A value proposition is a way of describing your customer’s job in more detail. It helps identify what specific problem you’re solving for them and why they should care.
Businesses must find their offering and align it with what people will pay to succeed. You need something people want and are willing to pay for–that’s where the ikigai comes in!
4. Consider what services people are willing to pay you for.
Finding your ikigai can be difficult, but it is not impossible. Individuals must consider what they are willing to pay for and how that will affect their lifestyle. You want to ensure that you can sustain yourself while also doing something you love.
Your list should have things that give you a sense of purpose, skills, and strengths that make you feel proud—the intersections of the diagram focus on your passion, mission, vocation and profession.
The diagram below illustrates how to achieve ikigai.
What are the ten proven tips for a long and rewarding life based on the Japanese philosophy of ikigai?
1. Stay active and don’t retire.
One of the most critical aspects of ikigai is staying active and working towards goals. That can be through work, volunteering, or learning new skills. It is best if we integrate regular exercise into our daily routines.
Some people may see retirement as an end goal. Instead, retirement should be a time when individuals can pursue other interests and enjoy life. There is no one-size-fits-all answer about retirement, and everyone’s situation will be different.
2. Take it slow. Stroll, and you will go far.
When it comes to living a long and fulfilling life, the Japanese have a proverb that says, “walk slowly, and you go far.” That is because they believe in taking things slow and enjoying the journey.
Ikigai’s philosophy applies to many areas of life, such as diet, work, and relationships.
The Japanese recommend against workaholism. Instead, it would be best if you made time for hobbies and friends.
3. Don’t fill your stomach. Stop eating when you are 80% full.
Ikigai advises us to stop eating when we’re 80% full. That will help prevent overeating and reduce the calories you consume daily.
The Japanese also believe in savouring each bite of food. They also think that eating unhealthy foods is terrible. The typical Okinawan diet comprises up to 125 vegetables, fish and tofu.
4. Surround yourself with good friends
Research shows that engaging in social connections is very beneficial. Connecting with others will improve our physical health, psychological well-being, and longevity. Conversely, a lack of social connection harms our health, such as smoking.
As humans, we are all wired for social connections. Your friends and immediate community can also provide robust social support.
5. Get in shape for your next birthday.
It’s never too late to get in shape. There are plenty of ways to ensure you’re looking and feeling your best for your next birthday.
One great way to stay in shape is volunteering at a local charity. Another excellent way to get fit is by participating in a local gym or health club.
6. Smile more
Smiling makes us feel better and positively affects those around us. The Japanese philosophy of ikigai encourages smiling more, promoting happiness and well-being.
There are many benefits to smiling, such as:
First, it releases endorphins, which make us feel happy.
Second, a smile helps us to connect with others.
Third, it makes us appear more attractive.
So the next time you’re feeling down, try smiling – you may be surprised at how good it makes you think!
7. Reconnect with nature
Ikigai philosophy encourages people to reconnect with nature. Spending time outdoors has many benefits, such as reducing stress and improving mental health. Also, going outdoors boosts creativity and slows down the effects of aging.
8. Give thanks for life.
One of the most critical aspects of ikigai is gratitude. Being grateful for what you have in life is a vital part of living a happy and fulfilling existence.
In retirement, it’s easy to take our freedom and good health for granted. But it’s essential to reflect on all the good things we have in our lives and give thanks every day.
You can express gratitude in many ways. Examples: prayer, meditation, or writing down five things you’re grateful for daily.
9. Live in the moment
Ikigai teaches you to live in the moment because that is all there is. You cannot change the past, and the future has not happened yet. All you can do is experience what is happening right now. So appreciate every moment and take the time to enjoy life’s simple pleasures. The Eastern practice of meditation can help you live in the moment.
10. Follow your Ikigai. If you haven’t found it, search for it.
Finding your ikigai can be difficult, but it’s worth it if you find it! Ikigai comprises four things: Passion, personal accomplishment, social connection, and environmental richness.
To help you figure out your ikigai based on what the author believes are essential factors in life. Ask yourself what you are passionate about and how it makes you feel when you live your day-to-day life.
Once you have a general idea of your ikigai, start pursuing it with all your might! The key to a happier and longer life is the pursuit of ikigai.
The Japanese philosophy of ikigai is an ancient one. A definite life purpose contributes to the very high life expectancy of the Japanese people. I have discussed the proven strategies for finding your ikigai and the benefits of achieving a long and rewarding life.
What is your ikigai?
I would love to hear your thoughts.
Thanks for your time.
Ikigai: The Japanese Secret for a Long and Happy Life book by Hector Garcia and Frances Miralles.