By Souls of Silver
Japan is a land of discipline. In Japan, people are known for working hard. They lead a military-like disciplined life. It almost makes all the other countries in the world envious. However, the reason for this amazing and purposeful life that the Japanese people lead may actually be related to the concept of ikigai. Ikigai does not have an English translation, but it means some kind of motivation that gets you up each day, brings joy to your life, and makes your life better. It can be closely related to our search of meaning in life – but the people of Japan have it all sorted out.
The Secret To Japan’s Purposefulness
For the people in Japan, ikigai does not have to be something glorious. You can find it in your day-to-day work or life. It may not make you famous either. It is just a priority that you set on which your entire day will revolve. According to the book Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life by Héctor García, the concept of ikigai is so intrinsic in Japanese people that they often wake up in the morning with that purpose in mind. It is the reason why they have such perseverance and dedication toward everything. Generally, people in the city direct their ikigai to their profession. Hence, we have Japanese workers being dubbed as the most hardworking and dedicated ones. They have made meaning out of their work and they have found satisfaction in what they earn. Work is important for everyone around the world and one of the reasons why mortality rates rise when people retire could be due to the loss of meaningful work.
Sharing Always Helps
While city people are dedicated to their jobs, García found out that the people in rural areas of Japan had a stronger sense of ikigai, which is found within the family or community. This results in the collectivist form of society that Japan is. While the Western world encourages individual expression and uniqueness for personal growth, the Japanese people try to strive for collective growth. Hence, they tend to share their joys and sorrows and try to tackle them as a whole. Thus, García says that while we try to collect more money to become better than our friends or a next person, Japan tends to think of their group, share hobbies and therefore have a collective sense of purpose. They call this connecting bond as kizuna.
Happiness In Togetherness
García found this sense of collectivism best in the residents of Okinawa – an island that is at the southernmost tip of Japan. The people of Okinawa are extremely happy and have a longer lifespan than the average Japanese. García claims that it is because of their strong sense of ikigai which develops and builds the bond present in their family and friends. Often, they would share green tea, talk, and spend a lot of time with each other, getting rid of their worries and strengthening their ikigai.
Ikigai Can Be Personal Too
However, ikigai can be personal as well. For Yuta Toga, an artist based in Tokyo, ikigai could be an editing technique where you can add different things that you enjoy and then start removing whatever you don’t like. As you do it more often, you will have more of things that you like doing. When you are doing something you love, slow down and enjoy the process. According to Toga, ikigai lies in our everyday things.
So that’s the secret. While we search for purpose and meaning in different areas of our life, maybe it’s just hiding in plain sight. We simply have to open our eyes to see it.
If you learn something new about ikigai and the purpose of our life, share this article and spread the meaning!