2020 has put a strain on our psychophysical well-being. The ikigai philosophy can help us rediscover the activities that give meaning to our lives.
Quarantine, lockdowns and social distancing... during this past year, our social lives and movement have been significantly restricted, plus, we have had to endure a constant stream of negative news. Worry and uncertainty, combined with forced restrictions on our movements, have put our resilience to the test.
It has therefore become vital to recover the necessary energy and some serenity from even within the four walls of our homes. This is where the Japanese philosophy of ikigai can lend a helping hand; the present-focused lifestyle concentrates on appreciating the little things in everyday life.
The word ikigai, a combination of the Japanese words “iki” (life) and “gai” (reason), can be translated as “reason to live” or “purpose in life”, but in reality, the term is a rather complex concept. Ikigai can be summarised as the point in which four elements intersect: the things we like to do, the things we do well, the activities we might get paid to do, and what the world needs.
At a time when the home seems to have become the only “safe haven", this approach teaches us to discover or rediscover our passions and the satisfying activities that make the hours we while away at home more entertaining. Furthermore, it can also help us find a deeper meaning of existence than the monotonous daily tasks, in turn, making us happier and more prepared to face any problems.
In fact, according to various studies conducted on the inhabitants of the island of Okinawa, ikigai is considered to be one of the main contributing factors to the population’s long life expectancy. In the book published by Hector Garcia and Francesco Miralles - Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life - 10 rules are identified to help provide a better insight into the Okinawan way of life:
1. Stay active; Don’t retire.
2. Take it slow (and say goodbye to stress).
3. Don’t fill your stomach (80% rule).
4. Surround yourself with good friends.
5. Get in shape for your next birthday (and exercise every day).
6. Smile (and take an interest in the people around you).
7. Reconnect with nature.
8. Give thanks (for what makes your life more beautiful and makes you feel alive).
9. Live in the moment.
10. Follow your ikigai.
These are all good habits that we can also cultivate at home, by breaking down the physical barriers with the use of digital means. Whilst waiting for our lives to return to “normal”, we can experience the joys of the present and look to the future with more confidence and hope.