Following Our Ikigai: How to Live a Life Worth Living–Neo-DeMarcoian Thought

I was on the outside when you said
You said you needed me
I was looking at myself
I was blind, I could not see

A boy tries hard to be a man
His mother takes him by his hand
If he stops to think he starts to cry
Oh why

If you walk away, walk away
I walk away, walk away, I will follow

“I Will Follow” by U2, a song that speaks to the pursuit of purpose and the journey of finding meaning in life. The lyrics convey the determination to follow one’s path and embrace the unknown, which aligns with the spirit of Ikigai.

Ikigai, a unique Japanese concept, serves as a guiding principle for finding purpose and fulfillment in life. Translating to “a reason for being” or “the reason to wake up in the morning,” Ikigai resides at the intersection of one’s passions, talents, the needs of the world, and what one can be paid for. With roots in Japanese culture and philosophy, Ikigai encourages individuals to embark on a journey of self-discovery and reflection, ultimately leading to a more meaningful and satisfying life. By embracing the principles of Ikigai, leaders can transform their outlook on life and work, fostering greater happiness and well-being.

The concept of Ikigai has its roots in Japanese culture and philosophy, dating back centuries. While there isn’t a specific origin point for the term, it has evolved and been influenced by several aspects of Japanese thought and tradition.

  1. Cultural influences: The idea of Ikigai can be traced back to the indigenous Ryukyuan religion and beliefs, particularly in Okinawa. The island is known for its high number of centenarians (people who live to be 100 years or older), and their longevity has been attributed, in part, to their strong sense of Ikigai.
  2. Confucianism: Confucianism, which had a significant impact on Japanese culture and philosophy, emphasizes the importance of leading a purposeful and morally upright life. The concept of Ikigai aligns with these values, as it encourages individuals to find their purpose in contributing to society and leading a meaningful life.
  3. Buddhism: Buddhism also influenced Japanese culture, teaching that life is inherently suffering (dukkha) and that the ultimate goal is to escape the cycle of birth and death (samsara). In this context, Ikigai is seen as a way to find meaning and happiness within the reality of suffering, by identifying and pursuing one’s purpose in life.
  4. Wabi-sabi: Wabi-sabi is a Japanese aesthetic philosophy that embraces the beauty of imperfection and impermanence. It encourages individuals to appreciate the simple, natural, and authentic aspects of life. Ikigai shares similarities with wabi-sabi, as both concepts emphasize the importance of finding meaning and joy in everyday life.
  5. The concept’s popularization: The term “Ikigai” gained popularity in the 21st century, particularly in the West, with the publication of books such as “Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life” by Héctor García and Francesc Miralles. The concept has since been adopted by self-help and personal development enthusiasts, who appreciate its focus on finding one’s purpose and leading a fulfilled life.

While the history of Ikigai is not well-documented, it’s clear that the concept is deeply rooted in Japanese culture and philosophy. Its emphasis on finding purpose and meaning in life has resonated with people worldwide, making it a popular topic in the realms of personal development and well-being.

Finding your Ikigai has a profound impact on one’s outlook on life and work. It is the intersection of four elements: what you love, what the world needs, what you can be paid for, and what you are good at. To find our Ikigai and transform our outlook on life and work, these steps might help:

  1. Self-reflection: Begin by spending time in self-reflection to identify our passions, strengths, values, and goals. Reflect on what makes you truly happy, what you are good at, and what you find meaningful in life.
  2. Discover our passions: Make a list of the things you enjoy doing, the activities that bring you joy and fulfillment. These could be hobbies, volunteer work, or personal interests. Recognize what truly excites you and makes you feel alive.
  3. Identify our strengths: Determine natural talents, skills, and abilities. Ask what you excel at and what others often praise us for. Consider taking aptitude tests or seeking feedback from friends, family, or colleagues to gain additional insights.
  4. Understand what the world needs: Reflect on the pressing problems and needs in our community, society, or the world at large. Research and educate yourself about the various issues and consider how our passions and strengths could be applied to address these needs.
  5. Explore career possibilities: Look for opportunities that align with our passions, strengths, and the needs of the world. Research different industries, job roles, or entrepreneurial endeavors that could allow utilization of talents and interests for a greater purpose.
  6. Experiment and learn: Try out different experiences, internships, or volunteer work to gain practical knowledge in the interesting fields. Use these experiences to refine our understanding of our Ikigai and gather more information about the areas you’re passionate about.
  7. Develop a plan: Once we have a clearer understanding of our Ikigai, create a roadmap to help you achieve said goals. This might include further education, networking, or seeking specific job opportunities. Set realistic milestones and deadlines to stay on track.
  8. Stay flexible and adapt: As we pursue our Ikigai, be prepared for change and be willing to adjust plans as needed. Life is full of surprises, and Ikigai may evolve over time. Stay open to new experiences and opportunities that can further refine a sense of purpose.
  9. Cultivate gratitude and resilience: Develop a habit of expressing gratitude for the things we have and the progress made. Gratitude can help stay grounded and maintain a positive outlook. Additionally, build resilience by learning to cope with setbacks and obstacles along the journey.
  10. Share our Ikigai with others: Once we’ve found our Ikigai, share it with others and inspire them to find their own purpose. This creates a ripple effect, leading to a more purpose-driven, fulfilled, and happier community.

Remember that finding Ikigai is a journey that requires patience, self-discovery, and persistence. Embrace the process and enjoy the personal growth that comes with it, as we transform our outlook on life and work.

Interesting that discovering our Ikigai can be a transformative and enlightening experience, paving the way for a more meaningful and fulfilling life. By taking the time to explore our passions, strengths, and the needs of the world, we can create a harmonious balance between personal satisfaction and making a positive impact on society. As we embark on this journey, remember to be patient, adaptable, and resilient, embracing the twists and turns that life has to offer. Ultimately, finding our Ikigai not only benefits us but also inspires those around us, fostering a happier, more purpose-driven community.

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