- Darshana Ananth
Ikigai – A Guide To Finding Your True Purpose And Longevity
Updated: Oct 13, 2021
Have you ever questioned your purpose in life or desperately wanted to know the meaning of your existence in this world? If you have, I’m sure you’re not the only one here. Often we get so engrossed in our daily lives and whatever life has to offer that we don’t really question the purpose or goal behind all that we do.
In order for us to live a truly fulfilling life, the inevitable step is to find the purpose of our existence. Now you might ask, “How am I supposed to know my purpose?”. Not many are able to find this true meaning, however, when they do, it is the most liberating thing ever. All you need is an open mind and the resilience to keep looking until you find your identity.
“Ikigai” was brought forward by Japanese people essentially meaning ‘a reason for being’. You can split the term into ‘Iki’ meaning life and ‘gai’ meaning effect or result. So Ikigai combined means ‘a reason for living’.
Japanese have been known to have the longest life expectancy in this world. Most of the centenarians or people who live beyond 100 years are the citizens of Japan living in a city named Okinawa.
One of the important factors contributing to their long lives was knowing their Ikigai (purpose of being). This made them clear of their objectives and goals which made them love what they do. Knowing your purpose not only gives you a fulfilling life but also increases your life expectancy to a certain degree.
How to find your Ikigai or ‘sweet spot’?
It is quite simple to find your reason for being, all you have to do is actively look for answers each day starting with what you like doing and what kind of impact will that have on this world.
You can start off by making 4 lists, one with the things that you love doing, second with the things that you’re good at, third is something that you can be paid for and fourth would be something that the world needs. You can now combine these to check if there is anything common among the four things listed and that is your sweet spot.
It takes a lot of self-reflection to finally get to know your identity in this world. Constantly making an effort to improve in whatever you do and staying resilient is the key.
Manifesting A Healthy and Long Life
The authors of the book ‘Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to Longevity’ did a lot of research on the people of Okinawa which had the maximum number of people living over 100 years. These people had a very clear and simple life. Some of the habits that the centenarians follow for good health and longevity are:
Diet: The Japanese eat only until they are 80% full. Their food usually has a lot of variety and it is served in small portions. Instead of using a big bowl, food is served in smaller bowls and plates making it seem like there’s a lot to eat while they consume only a limited amount. They eat fresh organic produce of vegetables and fruits along with fish and brown rice. They drink a lot of green tea and jasmine tea, rich in antioxidants that slow down aging making them look younger.
Community Relations: The people of Okinawa share a special bond with the people around them. They maintain healthy relationships with their family and friends by spending quality time with them. This overall brings a sense of joy into their life. As humans, all of us long for connections, without it there wouldn’t be much to enjoy in life.
Exercise & Sleep: Staying fit and active is one of the key elements to leading a healthy life. The centenarians fit exercise into their routines by taking walks and doing gardening in their spare time. They also get a sound sleep of 7-8 hours every day.
Positive Outlook: Now this may seem a bit cliched but staying positive and enthusiastic will bring more of the same back to you. People of Okinawa have high emotional intelligence. Deciding what affects you and what doesn’t is essential to be immune to unnecessary burdens and worries. Control what you can and let go of what you can’t.
After finally realizing your purpose or Ikigai, following through and staying in a flow or ‘getting into the zone’ can be challenging with all the distractions around us. In order for us to stay focused, it is good to do a task that is not too easy but also not too difficult.
The idea is to find a middle ground where it is interesting enough to continue without boring yourself. It is best to avoid multi-tasking as your mind can be all over the place and your efficiency will eventually decrease.
Avoid looking at your phone in the first and last hour of the day. In the beginning, it will be a bit hard to stick to what you’re doing but once you start getting better at it with practice, flow will come to you naturally.
How to be Anti-fragile?
One of the fascinating concepts from the book “Ikigai” is the art of being anti-fragile. It is nothing but staying resilient no matter what is thrown at you in life when tough times hit. This means you come back stronger after every setback and persevere till the end.
You take small risks each day, just a teeny-tiny bit instead of going for it all at once. Ask yourself, what is making you fragile or weak, and try to let go of that to bring in more of the good. It takes a lot of practice and resilience is king.
Rules of Ikigai
Stay active, don’t retire
Don’t fill your stomach (80% full concept)
Surround yourself with good people
Exercise well and stay active
Smile often and worry less
Reconnect with Nature
Give thanks to everything that you consume
Live in the moment
Follow your Ikigai
All of us are here for a reason and all it takes is a bit of courage and curiosity to discover things that have always been in front of us this whole time that we had failed to notice earlier. Make it your personal mission to find your ‘Why’, as only you can fulfill your purpose contributing to a bigger picture.