Wednesday, August 22, 2007

ikigai - finding your purpose in life despite chronic pain.

Kris, one of the managers of crps/rsd taking control google group and also owner of the website "Living with chronic pain" (link under articles of interest to the left of this blog), reminded me today of an important Japanese concept ikigai.

If ikigai were translated from Japanese into English, it could be "reason(s) for living", "self-actualization", "meaning or purpose of life" and "motivation for living".

Ikigai is culturally defined in the society of Japan as describing subjective well-being. It is considered to be related to life-satisfaction, self-esteem, morale, happiness as well as giving meaning to one's life.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, assistant professor of neurosurgery at Emory University Hospital and associate chief of neurosurgery at Grady Memorial Hospital in the process of writing his new book"Chasing Life" discovered that the way you think affects the way you feel.

If you have a prolonged negative way of thinking about illness these thoughts will manifest into existence. Think bad. Feel bad.
If you think of how good your health is, you will feel better. Think well. Feel better.

Life is full of challenges, when faced with a chronic illness or injury, you can either focus on lack and feel blame, or learn from your situation. You can be a victim or a victor. When you choose to be a victor, you increase your fulfillment.

Japanese researchers found that chronic pain patients with higher ikigai scores tended to be optimistic and to have positive attitudes, while patients with lower scores tended to be introverted and pessimistic and to have more physical disabilities due to pain.

Japanese believe that the people who live the longest have a very strong ikigai.
On waking each day, they focus on what is their sense of purpose for that day.

"Why are you here? What are you going to do? How are you going to better the world in some way?"

ikigai must change for sufferers of life changing conditions such as CRPS/RSD. The fundamental knowledge of what defines you and how you value yourself takes a radical shift. Faced, in many cases, with no longer working in your chosen job, being cared for instead of carers leave many of us floundering in search of a new identity, a new sense of purpose, a modified ikigai.

I'm still traveling this journey to define my ikigai but for now I'll think and speak mindfully, positively and concentrate on becoming the victor instead of the victim.


Lynn said...

What an interesting concept and wonderfully woven into your theme. Thank you so much for sharing.

jeisea said...

I'm glad you like it Lynn. Ikigai is a hard concept to explain but the essence of it is important I think.

jeisea said...

I was not aware that there was a word to describe this concept. I enjoyed this information which just confirmed what I already thought of myself. It is always nice to have a backing to thoughts...

Thanks Jeisea, you always post the best stuff!



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