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