As an educator and military spouse, I often find myself looking for an explanation for our life’s purpose. After all, those living a similar gypsy lifestyle are all too familiar with the concept of reinventing oneself repeatedly; additionally, those of us who have chosen education as our calling simply want to cast our nets wider and wider.
So when I came across the ancient Japanese tradition of Ikigai (pronounced EE-Kee-guy), I could not wait to share its teachings with my fellow meaning-seekers and educators, specifically at the culmination of the school year when many are experiencing high levels of stress. Infusing social-emotional learning into our academic curriculum is more vital than ever.
Enter your Ikigai. Through our heartfelt sympathies comes a time for self-reflection. Yes, this revered practice has the potential to impact your mental and physical life profoundly, with research suggesting a decrease in one’s risk of heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and even depression.
Finding your Ikigai also impacts those around you. According to Japanese legend, the Ikigai is a fusion of four elements: 1) what you love, 2) what you are good at, 3) what the world needs, and 4) what you can get paid to do.
Put simply, it is passion with a purposeful connotation.Put simply, ikigai is passion with a purposeful connotation. Click To Tweet
To discover your Ikigai, pose the following questions to yourself:
When do you feel most passionate?
Consider the moments when you are the most productive yet also at ease. If work is the dominant force of your Ikigai, what is your WHY for doing what you do?
What are your core values?
Cortney McDermott, author of Change Starts Within You, suggests writing down the names and desirable traits of the people you hold in the highest regard. Those characteristics are likely the ones you aspire to emulate, either consciously or subconsciously.
What patterns do you see?
Reflect upon the Ikigai Venn Diagram using this free worksheet. In Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life, coauthor Hector Garcia suggests that one’s ikigai isn’t static ,but is fluid, ever changing with life experiences.
Do you have a community?
Because one fourth of the Ikigai philosophy is dependent upon the world around you, the people in your life inevitably influence your happiness and sense of purpose. In this TED Talk: How to Live to Be 100, National Geographic writer and explorer Dan Beuttner discusses our world’s successful paths to a long and healthy life.
As we approach the warmth of summer, rediscover your meaning and find your Ikigai.
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