The past 12 months really made us think, don’t you agree? When our usual way of day-to-day living was turned upside down, some of us started to question the purpose of life. Just curious, is it true for you?
How to find one’s purpose?
The age-old question on the meaning of life may never be fully answered, but individually, each of us can find a purpose. Our purpose or where we find our meaning in life and living does not have to be earth-shattering. In other words, our life purpose doesn’t have to be heavy and burdensome. It can be in finding small pleasures. It can be in performing services and kindnesses, intentionally or whenever the opportunity arises. And, it is ongoing and changes as we inevitably transform through the various stages of life.
Searching for purpose
The search for meaning and purpose is tied to the quest for happiness. Every culture has its own path for this lifelong journey. The Japanese have clearly defined this journey as ikigai—a way to find purpose, joy and fulfilment in daily living.
What is Ikigai?
Hector Garcia, the co-author of Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life, explains ikigai as “the intersection of what you are good at and what you love doing.”1 Ikigai is seen as the convergence of four primary elements: your passion, your mission, your vocation, and your profession. Put another way, the four elements are what you love, what the world needs, what you are good at, and what you can get paid for. When these four elements are in balance, life is believed to have meaning, purpose and joy.2
The interpretation of ikigai
Okinawans have the highest number of centenarians in the world, and their interpretation of ikigai translates to “the happiness of always being busy.”3 Their meaning of life is discovered through daily actions and to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances—to choose one’s own way.4
The principle of ichariba
It also is rooted in the principle of ichariba chode, a local expression that translates to “treat everyone like a brother, even if you’ve never met them before.”5 This behaviour of kindness toward one and all is found also in the Golden Rule as quoted by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount.
How active wellness is connected to one’s purpose?
Living with Active Wellness certainly is one facet of pursuing ikigai. Staying active keeps us busy and helps keep stress at bay. Eating healthy foods in moderation and getting restful sleep are behaviours that help us to live well. Caring for ourselves and being strong enough to care for others is living to serve. We may do these things unconsciously, but when we become conscious of what we do on a daily basis, purpose and meaning unfold more clearly.
At Nikken, Humans Being More training teaches that meaning is often found in our mission in life, in what we do to develop ourselves and to serve others. Humans Being More posits that our purpose in life is to be and become the very best version of ourselves. Purpose and meaning are thus found through doing and being.
The Happiness advantage by Shawn Achor
Wellbeing, the five essential elements by Tom Rath
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