Ikigai is a concept that originated in Japan. It’s about finding and appreciating the joys of life that are meaningful to you personally, the things you want to get up for every morning. Together with an expert, we go into more detail about the technique and achieve harmony with it.
This concept is described in detail and engagingly by Ken Mogi in the world’s bestseller “Awakening Your Ikigai”. The Meaning of Life in Japanese. The philosophy has existed in the author’s homeland for more than six centuries and is not only a way to find purpose, but also a source of health and longevity of the Japanese. We explore the subject in more detail together in this blog post and try to understand how you can follow the same.
“Most importantly, to achieve ikigai, it is not necessary to achieve the highest professional success. This is not the goal of the concept, but only a side effect,” writes Mogi.
The island of Okinawa is the most amazing place to live, with the longest life expectancy in the world, and they claim that their secret lies in their knowledge of the art of ikigai. The island’s long-livers know how to find joy in the little things-the morning meal, the smile of a grandson, a favorite martial arts training session, a hobby. And that is the essence of the concept – in order to achieve enlightenment and find your meaning in life, it is important to learn to appreciate the seemingly minor details, the little things that make up our lives.
According to researchers, this attitude towards life changes one’s overall perception of reality – by embracing the little things, people start to value their health, their loved ones, and the world around them more. They think more about how to be in harmony with themselves and the world, give up bad habits and live a more measured life.
Let’s take a look at Ken Mogi’s five principles of ikigai “iki” (to live) and “gai” (reason), which can help you find meaning in life.
Principle #1: Start small
Just as the journey of a thousand miles starts with a first step, so the search for our destination is made up of small actions. What you are doing may not bring you much money right now, but by improving your skills day by day, by trying to help people through your work, you may achieve great success over time. Just as in the case of renowned Japanese chef Jiro Ono, winner of three Michelin stars – when he opened his own sushi bar, he wasn’t trying to make a high salary, but he was dedicated to his work and continuously developed his skills and achieved international fame.
To achieve happiness, you don’t have to do something incredible right away. Just start small, with whatever works for you, and you’ll soon see the results.
Principle #2. Free yourself
Remember yourself as a child: What did you play, what did you love, what did you enjoy? How often did you allow yourself to do the things you loved as a child? The answers to these questions hide the meaning of this principle. Once upon a time, each of us knew how to do something with a special joy. Think back to what it was for you, whether you can afford those activities now. Focus on your desires and feelings – they will show you the way to your destination.
Principle #3. Harmony and sustainability
A child’s desires and ambitions provide the initial drive, but it’s up to the adult to realize them. It is therefore important to be able to achieve their goals wisely. It is important for us to be in harmony with the people around us, the environment in which we live, and society as a whole. This is what gives harmony and sustainability and leads to a happy life. By the way, financial success is one of the signs of achieving ikigai, because by living by its principles, it is impossible to remain poor.
Principle #4. Rejoice in the little things
Our lives are made up of many details, and being able to enjoy them is the basis of this principle. How do you start your morning? Do you have your own joyful wake-up rituals? For instance, the Japanese start their morning with sweets and green tea. In addition to paying great attention to small details,be it a kind word from a passerby or a nice interior detail that uplifts their mood. Everyone tries to fill their home with things that give them real pleasure and comfort.
Fill your life with beautiful details and enjoy every moment of it, leaving the hustle and bustle behind.
Principle #5. Be here and now
This principle is similar to the “Flow, the secret to happiness” proposed by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. If you achieve this state, you will be able to enjoy even the most mundane activities. You will enjoy life itself, without seeking approval in the eyes of others, without setting challenging goals. You will simply be involved in your activities as part of the natural process of life.
Try to enjoy the process, not the result – that’s how the principle of ikigai can be described in a nutshell.
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