I’ve been reading the book ‘Ikigai’ written by Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles. I highly recommend it. Ikigai is a Japanese concept in which they believe leads to a long and happy life. They discuss that ikigai involves having a life purpose. We all have one, it is just figuring out what it is. Ikigai is also about flow whereby you are completely absorbed in what you are doing that you have no concept of time, such as catching up with a good friend and talking for what feels like an hour, but turns out to be half the day. During that time together you haven’t worried about what you have to do later on, you are just enthralled in one another’s company. When I read about the concept of flow, whereby you are so immersed into what you are doing that time seemed to fly. You are 110% focused on the task at hand that no other thoughts enter. There is no dwelling on the past, or anxiety about the future. You are completely immersed within the present. I was taken back to a time where I was exactly like this. It was at the beginning of my career in child care. It was my happy place. From the moment I arrived at the centre any cares or worries that I had were left at the front gate, I would enter the premises and all that mattered for the 9 hours that I was there were those children. The time flew without me knowing where it had gone. I built beautiful strong relationships with the children and with their families. I felt like I had the best job in the world.
Fast forward 13 years and how much has that changed. Somewhere, for some reason I lost the passion, I lost my ikigai. Is it because I grew older and I had more responsibilities? Is it because of the increased use of technology and the ongoing need to be connected and multitask? Is it because we are on constant time restraints to fit in all of the things in the same 24 hours? Is it because my personal life turned upside down that I ended up suffering compassionate fatigue, where I just didn’t have the energy to care anymore? That last statement is very difficult to admit, and not one in which a lot of people will understand. Compassionate fatigue occurs in many careers where the primary role is to care, and I think when your own needs are not being met, and they are completely depleted it is very difficult to care for others when you are struggling to just care for yourself. Maybe it was a combination of all of the above as to why I lost my ikigai.
Now, your ikigai doesn’t have to be your job. It could be anything that you enjoy doing that allows you to be completely present. It could be a hobby – dancing, reading a good book, gardening, going out on a hike or a long walk, painting, volunteering at a nursing home, going surfing. Whatever it might be, do the things that make you forget about your past, and make you stop worrying about your future. Simply just be.
Do you have an ikigai?