Monday, May 18, 2009

Ikigai - put simply "a reason for living".

How to Cope With Pain has chosen this post as part of its blog carneval for this month. Click here to see what else is on offer.

Today I want to tell you about 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.


Jeanne said...


I found you through your comment on the How To Cope With Pain Blog.

This post is really great. Positive attitude is so important. Chronic illness can very easily lead to bitterness and anger that can turn into a downward spiral.

While some negative feelings are bound to happen with chronic illness, I believe it's crucial to keep a positive outlook.

I truly believe that finding purpose is key.

Great post and thank you for your comments to me on the other blog!


P.S. I see your "follow me on twitter" on the top of your blog but I didn't see a twitter feed or follow me button. So, please follow me on twitter:


Just please let me know it's you if your twitter screen name is different than your name here... so I'll know it's you.

I know several RSD patients via twitter that I can try to hook you up with. One of them is in Australia, as a matter of fact.


Jeanne said...


I'm back. The How to Cope with Pain Blog isn't letting me comment w/out logging in and isn't letting me login for some reason.

I just wanted to thank you for mentioning Dr. Ramachandran. It's funny that you should mention him because my acupuncturist had seen his lecture on the TED site and I had seen the video back when my phantom pain kicked in following nerve-cutting surgery.

I don't normally post links in blog comments for risk of appearing spammy but since you had mentioned this doctor yourself, I'll post this TED link from Dr. Ramachandran's lecture since you might be interested in seeing it.

You can always reject my comment b/c it has a link in it and I will understand.

(I know YouTube videos are limited to 10 minutes each and the TED video is more than twice that long).

Here it is... (see 9:27 min mark for when he starts talking about phantom pain):

In any event, I wanted to thank you for taking the time/effort to mention that and wanted to share this video with you in case you haven't seen it.

Looking forward to connecting with you on twitter. Be sure to check out my chronic illness blog too. We cover all sorts of conditions.

I LOVE ACUPUNCTURE! I have blogged and vlogged about it. :)


P.S. The reason I know a few people on twitter with RSD is part chance (they keep following me on twitter) and part to do with the fact that there's the possibility that I have RSD myself (long story). I look forward to connecting with you.

jeisea said...

Hi Jeanne

I'm now following you on Twitter. I'm jeisea with a picture of crps rsd a better life on Twitter. I'm glad you liked this post. Please let me know if I can help you in any way. If you subscribe to my email posts you can click "reply" and send me a private message any time.
Take care of you.

jeisea said...

Hi Jeanne again.
I've had the same problem with HTCwP and the "join" thing. I let the doctor know via email.

I've seen the Ted one I think but will check again. Neurotopian (links to the left here) has a series of posts on mirror therapy. I posted about this this week. Suggest you take a look if you have time. There is so much work being done with the new brain science. You know that dementia is now known to have something to do with lack of creation of neural pathways. If you see this comment please put a link to your blog. I'll add it to my link list.

mack said...

This is fascinating.
I’d been taught that left-aligned labels are preferred, to support the prototypical F-shaped eye-tracking heatmap of web browsing. The idea is that it supports easy vertical scanning.

online learning

Custom Search
Gadget by The Blog Doctor.