Find your pur­pose

Take a lead from the Ja­panese to max your good vibes, fast

Women's Health Australia - - DECEMBER 2017 - By Alex Davies

Iki­gai hits the global well­ness radar

Some trivia for you: Ja­pan’s had the long­est life ex­pectancy in the world for more than two decades. We’re talk­ing 83.7 years, ac­cord­ing to the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion’s 2017 re­port. Ex­perts reckon the na­tion can thank ev­ery­thing from liv­ing stan­dards to diet, as well as a lit­tle thing called iki­gai. It’s a con­cept that’s noth­ing new in Ja­pan, but has now hit the global well­ness radar. Here’s a crib sheet – plus, how to har­ness iki­gai for your hap­pi­est day yet.

So, what are we talk­ing about here?

In short, your rea­son to get up in the morn­ing. Over to Ken Mogi, Tokyo-based neu­ro­sci­en­tist, broad­caster and au­thor of The Lit­tle

Book of Iki­gai. “Iki­gai is the pur­pose of life; the driv­ing force that makes you carry on through dif­fi­cul­ties and chal­lenges in your life,” he ex­plains. “Every Ja­panese [person] would have his or her own iki­gai. It’s some­thing so nat­u­ral to us, like the air we breathe.” Sounds good!

OK, great. How do I find mine?

It’s all about tap­ping into the small things that bring you joy. “What gives you plea­sure? These are seeds of iki­gai. Put your at­ten­tion and care into it, to make it grow into full bloom,” says Mogi. “Have a port­fo­lio of small things that give you joy. Cof­fee in the morn­ing, a piece of cake, the early sunshine, tak­ing a walk, lis­ten­ing to the birds, cook­ing, see­ing your fam­ily, check­ing your [phone].” A spec­trum of these so­lid­i­fies your iki­gai, he adds. Rely on just one thing? It might not be doable or avail­able one day. This ain’t your of­fice Bach­e­lorette sweep­stake – you don’t have to pick just one favourite.

What can iki­gai do for my life?

“If you have iki­gai, you’re able to be creative and op­ti­mistic by find­ing joy in the small things in life,” says Mogi. “You fo­cus more on the here and now, and the qual­ity of your per­for­mance im­proves. You don’t need to be suc­cess­ful in the worldly sense to have iki­gai, but it ac­tu­ally may help you be­come suc­cess­ful as a bonus.” Watch out for busy­ing your­self so much with big goals and huge projects that you for­get the lit­tle wins, Mogi warns. Right, you heard the man: down with work­ing through lunch, and up with a trip to your fave cafe. After all, Iki­gai tells you so.

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