Ikigai is defined as a “reason for being” “sense of purpose” “reason you wake up in the morning” by a variety of sources. I recently heard about this word when listening to a TED talk by Dan Buettner called “How to live to be 100+”.
Until I listened (quite a few times) I have NEVER EVER thought about what my sense of purpose was as. I would simply wake up in the morning and go. Today feels like a good day to look at Ikigai.
The word Ikigai is a Japanese concept that developed a long time ago in the Heian period. Despite the fact of the word and the concept being present for so long how many of us think about what is our reason for living, our sense of purpose. It feels a little sad that this is not more part of who we are, because maybe it could help us be more of who we are.
I decided to do a little research in asking people this question. Each person I asked paused quite a bit as they had never thought about their Ikigai. Here are some of the responses.
Carly D (she is 9 years old) stated that the sunlight is out and she wants to have a good day.
Sandy B (she is 74) and married to Bernie B (he is 79) stated she gets up every morning to bring joy into lives of people and to make sure Bernie has the best day he can. Bernie answered that Suzie (their dog) would kill him and to make sure that Sandy gets out to go to work. Trust me there was some humorous snarkiness between the two of them with their different answers. Bernie did say he does enjoy giving Sandy a kiss as she leaves for work.
All the Ikigai talk made me wonder. What is my Ikigai. Each one of us is growing and changing on life’s learning curves, myself included. My work on myself has helped me to have a better sense of who I am and what I want to do with my life. It has been really hard work and worth every struggle. This is helped me to clarify my Ikigai.
My Ikigai is to be a kind, helpful human every day. To make the world a better place to live in. Yep it does sound like a Miss American Pageant. Yep I want to help the world. So I will share my why’s to this in case you were wondering (and I am super sure y’all were wondering).
When I look at people around me that I see in stores, restaurants, driving, the news, there is so much sadness, angry, hurt going on in the world. Now I could sit back, say their problem is not my problem, judge or blame others for their challenges and hardships. Yes, I could do that. OR I could help, heal, comfort, care.
I am going for the help, heal, comfort, care. That is my Ikigai.
My actions for this include smiling and giving eye contact to people when I am out and about, giving up my car space to someone else, bringing a baked treat into work, returning a grocery cart for someone, if I am treating myself to a drive-thru treat also treating the person behind me. There are some moments that this is hard for me. I am feeling frustrated, stressed or not in the mood. When I challenge myself that I HAVE to do this it helps my mood, my stress, my frustration.
The one bigger action I am taking is the “You Matter” postcard project. Every week I send out postcards to individuals and business in the Rochester NY area (from my business). The postcard states “you matter” and “thank you for bringing your awesome to the world”. I use the phonebook for addresses and send away. I never know the impact. I feel compelled to do this even though there are times it feels crazy. A few weeks ago someone sent an email stating “I look at your postcard every day and it brings a smile to my face”. WOW!
This action I take is probably something most people will chose not to do (and I totally understand why). Perhaps what you could do carry some sticky notes with you and give someone a nice note. Yep a little beyond the ordinary. Yep doing some good.
I know with every fiber of my being that there are many people who are daily doing acts of kindness for others. The world needs all the kindness it can get.
So what if in additional to your Ikigai that might include things like my family, you never know what is going to happen, putting my kids on the school bus, my friends, you added helping to the world be a kinder place.
The kindnesses you bring to the world make a difference. You never know what difference your smile or kindness can make to another person. After the recent tragic Christchurch shooting over $3.5 million dollars was DONATED in 24 hours by so many people wanting to help heal and comfort.
Earth Tribe has a great quote: “The power of one. Don’t fall for the lie that one person cannot make a difference. All powerful movements began with the actions of individuals striving for change. YOUR actions count. Be the change.”
Just think of the combined power for this world is if part of EVERYONE’s Ikigaiwas kindness to others all the time, even for those individuals who do not make it easy to be kind to.
I am all in. Want to join me?