“We could hardly wait to get up in the morning.”
~ Wilbur Wright.
Dan Buettner with the support of National Geographic for many years has been scouting and studying so-called “blue zones” — places with a high concentration of long-livers. His goal was to identify correlations between nutrition, culture, and habits of these people and their surprisingly long and happy life.
One of such “blue zones” is located in Japan. Japan is famous for its high percentage of long-livers but the average lifespans in one of the cities of the Okinawa island that Buettner located exceed all known figures. Men live an average of 88 years, women 92.
One of the main secrets behind their extraordinary longevity is the balanced diet. Japanese people have developed multiple martial arts and spiritual practices that conditioned their long life. But what Dan Buettner discovered on the island of Okinawa is very uncharacteristic even for Japan — a phenomenon that locals call “ikigai”.
Ikigai could be deciphered as “the thing that gives the meaning to life, the reason to wake up every morning”. This is what Western people would call a mission, a life project, or in other words, a work that gives you a sense of purpose, fulfillment, and joy.
Those who found their ikigai are immune to depressions. They are indifferent to the pleasures of self-destructive habits and always retain an optimistic attitude toward life. Their work and desire to get it done in the best possible way give them a sense of value and self-worth.
So, how can you find your ikigai? Here is how:
Your ikigai is located at the intersection of 4 areas illustrated above. To formulate your ikigai use a pen and a piece of paper and meditate on this map. Here are some questions that will help you on the way:
- Your Sensations. What do you absolutely love to do? Look into your heart. All of the external attributes of success won’t matter if your work doesn’t bring you joy. What are the things that give you a sense of meaning?
- Your Knowledge. What are you good at? What is your domain of expertise? What is your unique value? What are your skills? Your strengths? What kind of literature do you read with pleasure? What kind of websites do you visit?
- Your Achievements. What are you proud of? Recall 3 of your top achievements. These things may serve as a perfect starting point for the search of your ikigai.
- Your Vision. Close your eyes. Summon an image of your future self. What do you see? Are you a brilliant neurosurgeon? A top-notch writer? A scientist who made a breakthrough? The first man on Mars? You must feel connected to the image of the future you, it must become a compass that always points to your goals.
- Your Psychological Profile. All people are different but there are certain common psychological patterns in how people perceive the world and make decisions. Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) — is a self-assessment tool that will help you to identify your personality type. It’s important to understand yourself well in order to make smart life choices. We will take a closer look at MBTI in the next section.
Finding your ikigai will demand the best of you. You will have to invest a lot of energy and time to discover what’s worth a lifetime of devotion. It’s a pity that so many of us fail to figure it out. The earlier you will start your quest for ikigai the sooner you will find your way to inner peace and fulfillment.
This section ends with the words of a man who found his ikigai and stayed true to it all his life:
“You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Do not settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Do not settle…Your time is limited, so do not waste it living someone else’s life. Do not be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Do not let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
~ Steve Jobs
Thank you for reading my book “Meditations of the Millennial”.
If you want to support me on my mission, please, share this book with someone you love. Maybe they will find what they seek on its pages.