Sunday, May 16, 2010

ikigai - finding life's purpose - and becoming the victor not the victim

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".
In the society of Japan ikigai is culturally defined 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 choose to 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 pai

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 people with life changing conditions such as chronic pain (now recognized as a disease in its own right). 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 caring for others 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, to find a new sense of purpose, but for now I'll think and speak mindfully, positively and concentrate on becoming the victor instead of the victim.


Rellacafa said...

Inspiring post! It's interesting to hear the Japanese take on this, I definitely believe that how we think and feel affects our illness. Looking forward to learning more about ikigai :)

jeisea said...

I love your blog especially this post. Hope you don't mind but I'll put your link on my site. I'll be coming to Melbourne to a craft market at the end of June as my daughter's friend is one of the Thread Den people and we hope to bring tea coseys, and aprons as well as other vintage inspired stuff. Never been to melbourne before so very excited.

Take care of you and please let me know if thewre is any way I can help you.

Usiku (oo-SEE-koo) said...

May the spirit, power and energy of your beliefs serve as traveling companions and trusted advisers.

jeisea said...

Thank you Usiku. Sometimes it's good to think again on what really matters, what defines us and where we are going. I often remember our discussions on being open for oportunities. I like to think that in contemplating my ikigai I also am open for oportunities.

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