On Finding Ikigai and How It’s Helped Me

When you bow deeply to the universe, it bows back – Japanese Proverb

I’ve always been fascinated with Asia, especially Japan. Fashion, food, pop culture, spirituality…Japan’s diversity covers many a person, including me! In fact, I sometimes swear that I could’ve been Japanese in my previous life…

Other than brightly coloured sushi and kitsch clothing, another Japanese concept I love is Ikigai.

No, this does not have anything to do with food (a surprise for me I know!)

So, what exactly is Ikigai? 

The translation is simple yet eloquent – ‘the reason for being’. Or as I like to refer to it – ‘the reason to wake up each morning!’

The Japanese use Ikigai to describe a healthy passion, you know the type of thing that makes you feel like you’re really living your life to the fullest…

It got me thinking…what’s my Ikigai?

Teaching, writing, fashion, art, food…

And, can I have more than one Ikigai? 

I also love that the Japanese belief that every single person out there has an Ikigai. Apparently everyone has at least one, but some are yet to discover it, which kind of reminds me of one of my standard school report phrases “X has the potential, but is yet to realise it!”

Ikigai is like a devotion, something fascinating, almost an obsession. No one else has control over our Ikigai…we decide what we give and how much time we want to dedicate to it…but here’s the thing, the Japanese buy into it – it’s a way of Japanese life!

For some Japanese people, their obsession with their Ikigai can run deeply, so much so that every day, they find ways to breathe it while aligning it to their mind, body and soul. It’s said that some have gone as far as suffering in the name of their Ikigai…I can assure you this won’t be me.

I’m not sure I’d sweat and bleed for my writing, but I do live for it. Yeah, I had a bit of a break from blogging, but now that I’ve rediscovered myself and my writing mojo, I’m fully invested in it again.

In my past relationship, I abandoned my Ikigai. I failed to follow a calling because I chose my relationship. Forget that the relationship left me broken, I now realise that turning my back on my art was the wrong thing to do – there’s always a happy medium!

It’s about having the stamina and resonance to follow through with it…to be strong! I love the Japanese concept of Ikigai for this – it’s something that’s part of me – it’s inherent, so why shouldn’t I cherish it?

Ikigai is also often described as a ‘burning mission’. In a way, I’d say my writing is like this. Of course, I write for me, but I also want to touch others with what I write. The latter adds even more layers to my Ikigai, which in a roundabout way adds even more layers to its meaning.

Igniting Ikigai is like finding your mojo. And once you find it, it can be easily realised, especially if you’re pursuing specific goals or dreams like  me. But according to the Japanese, it doesn’t even have to so complex – it could be as simple as creating a new intention…I love it!

Ikigai may be an ancient belief in Japan, but I’m happy I’ve discovered it, because it just proves what I’ve been trying to advocate all along – have the right mindset and you’ll discover a world of new and exciting possibilities awaiting you!

I believe that my own Ikigai has the potential to change my life, and that’s my goal, not my dream! I’m all for personal challenges, so bring it on baby!

Writing has been a great release for me. It’s helped me through some of my darkest days, days I never want to experience again. In retrospect, I think this is when I first discovered my Ikigai. It has been my way of channelling my pain, but through this I’ve also learnt how to transform this heartache into action. Even if I help one or two people with my words, I’ll be satisfied. And although I do have times of doubt, I know that I will get through it!

I’ll be the first to admit that I previously internalised everything. This resulted in pent up negative emotions that sent me into a downward spiral. At the time, it all seemed unsurmountable, but over the last year (with a few writing breaks and many tears along the way), I’ve also discovered how cathartic writing actually is – it’s healed parts of me that I couldn’t heal in any other way.

When I started expressing myself through my writing and sharing my experiences, both good and bad, I began to receive emails and messages from people (just like me) from around the world. They too had battled similar experiences, which is why I also believe that your Ikigai can actually empower and motivate others, which makes this journey even more rewarding.

Writing is my Ikigai, end of! It has helped me unravel the mess that shadowed my mind. It has literally saved me mentally and physically and it’s given me a whole new outlook on life. It’s also helped me realise that some things were meant to be and some things weren’t, and no matter what happens, I should never look back on what’s happened with regret. I no longer sit and wallow and wish that life had a rewind button, because there’s one thing I know for certain – fear is a temporary state, but regret is forever!

The whole process has been a transformational one and the journey still continues.

Through my study of Ikigai, I have learnt that indeed we can have many, and it’s possible to focus on more than one at a time. That’s the great thing about Ikigai – there are no rules – it’s simply about following your instinct – it’s about finding the key to happiness and finding your purpose!

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