Ending up with a sense of failure each time you “underachieve” with your work-life balance is frustrating, yet you still get up in the morning and try again. What is motivating you? Finding ikigai in your everyday life is the first step to knowing the answer, but what is even more intriguing is that you are most likely already doing the research if you are reading this article. In the book Awakening your Ikigai Ken Mogi writes:
If you can make the process of making the effort your primary source of happiness, then you have succeeded in the most important challenge of your life.
Meaning and purpose being the concepts I often contemplated on, the discovery of Ikigai was like finding a missing piece. The first time I read about Ikigai was back when I was studying philosophy. It sounded remarkably profound, yet so simple.
A tiny word that holds an ancient secret to a happy life, the “reason to get up in the morning” in six characters. It wasn’t all that simple though, mainly because it’s almost impossible to find an ikigai synonym in any other language. The meaning of ikigai in Japanese is so unique, and tied to the essence of Japanese global and regional cultural habits.
I had to invest myself into understanding it, applying Ikigai to my personality and making it work for me. No need to go to Okinawa for happiness, you can just keep on reading and do the ikigai in your everyday life too.
From an inspiring thought to self-actualization
For me, it has always been super difficult to achieve an optimal work-life balance. For us ladies, the usual 9-5 lasts all day. We are constantly trying to find time for everything: work, family, friends, love life, housework, homework, exercise, hobby, shopping… Oh my goodness, the list is long. But I wanted a life well-lived.
The road led me to a thorough analysis of the 5 elements that make the concept of Ikigai in your everyday life, along with a month-long deep self-reflection.
There are five pillars that ikigai is built upon that act together and sustain each other.
This is my take on the five pillars:
- Starting small – what you do makes a difference in people’s lives, start acting on it
- Releasing yourself – accept who you are, free yourself from imposed concepts about who you should be
- Harmony and sustainability – always think about others and the world around you
- Joy of little things – a sum of small joys leads to a fulfilling life, live every moment
- Being in the here and now – bring out your inner child, be creative and free – the essence of finding ikigai in your everyday life
I managed to carefully partition and categorise my daily activities, to pinpoint the things that are consistent with the five pillars and focus my mental strength on them. I eliminated the ones that were creating weight, such as investing my strength into people that I don’t feel comfortable with, as well as having too many expectations from others in general. At that point I felt released.
To truly define the concept of ikigai for yourself there are four questions that everyone needs to answer. I found my ikigai right at the intersection of my answers to these. What I love, what I am good at, what I can get paid for, and what the world needs.
Be successful in applying ikigai in your everyday life too
I strongly recommend starting with reading the book to grasp the ikigai concept and learn how to find your ikigai. What follows is a deep dive into yourself by whichever method fits your personality: meditation, daily contemplation, reading, writing, to name a few. List and organize the things in your life according to the five pillars.
However, don’t expect the process to be done in a few days, some people take months. Readjusting takes time, and everyone has a unique path. You will know that you found your ikigai when the answers to the four questions are clear. I will give a few examples:
- What you love – morning coffee, jogging, reading, a blow-dry every other day, sex…
- What you are great at – your job, cooking, creating costumes for the school play, painting, design, writing…
- What you can give to the world and others – recycle fashion, clean up the garbage on the beach, listen to others more, be mindful about your environment…
- What can you get paid for – turning a creative hobby into something profitable
Can you truly master ikigai in your everyday life? – Yes.
You should know by now that a magic formula to a happy and fulfilled life does not exist. There are no how-tos in philosophy, you must follow the journey to find “ your happy” no matter how long it takes. You get the gist of it. And don’t let yourself be discouraged along the way, it is there, because you are there. Be mindful, sense it, create it, live it each day.
After all, you are dealing with an amazing investment for the future and it is just a matter of time before ikigai in your everyday life appears out of nowhere.