The Japanese philosophy of happiness Ikigai: discover the meaning of your existence

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The Japanese philosophy of happiness Ikigai: discover the meaning of your existence

The secret to a long and happy life can be found on the Japanese island of Okinawa. Ikigai ‘s philosophy revolves around finding the meaning of your existence. “The centenarians on Okinawa have several secrets that ensure that you experience your existence as meaningful and have a positive attitude to life,” says Brenda Serrée, Ikigai speaker and coach. She will help you discover your Ikigai!

By making the most of every day, creating moments of happiness and putting meaning to the community first, Okinawa residents often experience flow and gratitude.

Stand still with yourself

Do you ever ask yourself: why am I here? Why do I matter? What is my reason for being? Maybe you know what your talents are and what you like to do, but you rarely really stop to see where you are now and where you want to go. Life moves on and the days fill up quickly. Do you really feel fulfilled deep inside? Do you make time to do what you love?

Ikigai: live happily ever after

Discovering your Ikigai can give you something to hold on to. It is a compound of the words iki (life) and gai (value, meaning, reason). This is the concept for a long and happy life that has come over from the Japanese island of Okinawa. The inhabitants live up to 120 years and are famous worldwide for their way of life. They give meaning to their lives because they live their Ikigai or their reason for being. They lead a life that has personal meaning for them and in which they can be themselves.

The Japanese philosophy of happiness Ikigai: discover the meaning of your existence

By making the most of every day, creating moments of happiness, and putting meaning to the community first, they often experience flow and gratitude. Their attitude to life contributes to their health and finding satisfaction in things big and small.

One of the secrets: staying active

Spanish authors Héctor Garcia and Francesc Miralles interviewed many of the centenarians on the island of Okinawa. Everyone has a reason for being, which can change over time. While one person looking after the great-grandchildren is the Ikigai, the other starts the day happy with the prospect of being able to work in the vegetable garden.

One thing is certain: these centenarians have several secrets that help to live long. That ensures that you experience your existence as meaningful and that you have a positive attitude to life. One of those secrets is to always stay active, even if you don’t have to work (anymore). There must be an Ikigai, like a dot on the horizon: a life purpose that stimulates you to create beauty and be useful, for yourself and for the community.

Less stress, less fatigue

The Japanese philosophy of happiness Ikigai: discover the meaning of your existence

When an illness suddenly paralyzed my arms and legs, I quickly asked myself questions such as: what is my meaning? What do I matter? What exactly does this disease tell me? Why am I here?
It became an inner journey. Little by little I became healthy again and came closer to my Ikigai. I needed that period of silence to keep from going at my usual pace.

Haste gave way to doing things that gave me energy and with which I could color the world a little more beautifully. It was a decision of my heart to live and work in a healthy way, with flow and passion. By being aware of the possibilities that are available to me and making conscious choices that fit my Ikigai, I experience less stress, fatigue, and overwhelmed than before. Knowing what your Ikigai is will help you make the most of circumstances that you might otherwise consider ‘difficult’‘.

Exercise: What do your favorite books say about you?

Are you curious about your Ikigai? There are many exercises that you can do yourself, such as these:

  • Make sure you get into a relaxed atmosphere. For example with meditation, a breathing exercise, or mantra music
  • If you are less in your head and more with your feelings, answer the following two questions:
    What are your three favorite books? Describe what you like about them and why they inspire you. Do they bring you into a certain atmosphere? Do you find something exciting about it? Are they about certain ideals, wisdom, or love? What are your three favorite movies? Do you feel inspired by it? Do they perhaps contain a message that appeals to you?
  • See if you recognize certain themes. Read what you wrote down and find Is there a common thread visible?

You have now taken the first step in exploring your Ikigai! I love to share my secrets with you so that you can take small and big steps to feel meaningful in your life and work.

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