Ikigai – the Japanese philosophy of a happy life

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Ikigai is a Japanese word that describes pleasure, but also the essence of life. It is made up of iki, meaning to live, and gai, meaning reason. So we can say that ikigai is a philosophy of life in which we know what we are living for, but also get the most out of our everyday life.

In today’s world many things have changed since ancient times, but one thing remains the same – the human desire to be fulfilled and happy.

What is ikigai?

Ikigai does not refer to success in life. Rather, it is a philosophy that focuses on minimalism and peace of mind. It is based on joy and happiness caused by small things that make us happier. It is a very good method which can significantly reduce our stress and make us focus less on failures. Ikigai means to fully focus on the positive aspects of everyday life, such as the taste of food or nice weather. It is also the art of appreciating the little things that make our lives better and more complete. Such a richness of feelings and impressions improves the mood, but also brings peace and harmony into our lives.

Today’s world is strongly focused on success, which in itself is nothing bad. In ikigai there is a strong condemnation of the so-called rat race, in which success is not only our joy, but a reason for stress that we have done too little or not well enough. If we make success our joy and motivator, rather than a sad necessity or a reason to compare ourselves with others, then it becomes something positive and very revealing for us.

Can ikigai help us to recover?

Interestingly, the ikigai philosophy can not only help reduce stress, but is recommended for people with depression and neurosis. In 2008, a study was published that confirms that this philosophy can significantly improve our health. It was conducted at Tohoku University of Sendai in Japan. It turned out that ikigai has a significant impact on our health, including physical health. For seven years in Ōsaki National Health Insurance (Japanese equivalent of Polish National Health Fund) the respondents received questionnaires with as many as 93 points concerning addictions, health condition, but also ikigai philosophy and approach to everyday life. The number of people surveyed was as high as 54,996 policyholders aged 40-79. Respondents who incorporated the ikigai philosophy into their lives were less sickly, less likely to feel stressed, or less likely to feel lonely.

Improvement Pill – The Japanese Formula For Happiness – Ikigai

Main principles of ikigai

Ikigai has its main tenets. These are:

  1. Enjoying every moment and looking for as many positive thoughts as possible, even in difficult moments.
  2. Enjoying the small things, even the insignificant ones.
  3. Setting and fulfilling life goals point by point and achieving them. The goal must be measurable and have a completion and completion time.
  4. Lack of guilt from not completing a task and the absence of the so-called rat race. Tasks are completed conscientiously, but without stress and too much haste that could distract us.
  5. Focusing on the good moments.
  6. Not dwelling on bad memories.
  7. Appreciating other people and nature.
  8. Finding free time for yourself and your loved ones.
  9. Analyzing yourself and your emotions.
  10. Focusing on your positive qualities without constantly comparing yourself to others.

The ikigai philosophy works great in business, because thanks to the satisfaction with the work done, money is no longer of primary importance. What matters is the joy of doing the work, as well as our personal satisfaction.

Ikigai is strongly connected with the so-called ganbarimasu, which literally means “to put all your efforts into achieving your goal”. The philosophy of ikigai allows us to conscientiously complete tasks, but in such a way that it brings us joy rather than sadness or fatigue. The Japanese are a very orderly people and if they have a task to do, they will try to do it 100%.

As in any philosophy of life, ikigai also requires some training and practice. It allows us to focus on pleasures, but also on duties. It makes us feel better for sure, but also makes our life more meaningful and joyful.

Photo: Tirachard Kumtanom/Pexels

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