What’s the first thing you ask when you meet someone new?
More often than not, it’s “What do you do?” But maybe the more telling question would be “What’s your why?”
The Japanese concept of ikigai roughly translates to “why i wake up in the morning.” Everyone, according to the Japanese, has an ikigai. Finding it often requires a deep and lengthy search of self, but such a search is considered important and necessary because the discovery one’s ikigai, brings satisfaction, joy, and meaning to life.
It’s easy to lose sight of our ikigai in the daily grind.
Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh writes that in today’s world “we have constructed a system we can’t control. It imposes itself on us, and we become its slaves and victims. We are so caught up in our own immediate problems that we cannot afford to be aware of what is going on with the rest of the human family or our planet Earth.”
When we are struggling to just get through the day, complete our tasks at work, and meet our family obligations, our ikigai can easily take a backseat.
But spending some time figuring out what’s your why would benefit your health in a major way.
A 2009 study of 1,238 older adults found that those with a higher sense of purpose had about half the risk of dying than those with a lower sense of purpose. It also found that having a sense of purpose helps protect against Alzheimer’s disease and other cognitive disorders.
Not sure what your purpose is? Well, don’t worry- a sense of purpose can be cultivated. Finding meaning in our complex world can seem daunting, but the rewards of searching for and finding your ikigai are long-lasting.
I hope you can take some time this week to think about