“I can’t come up with anything profound.” said my friend who I considered extremely evolved and thought would have a prompt answer to my question on “what is your ‘Ikigai’?”. A Japanese term which means, your reason for being, loosely translated your purpose in life, it is the French equivalent of Raison d’être.
“The alarm!” had been his earlier answer obviously a failed attempt at humour to get away from my question which forced him to take a moment and think, to be fair at least a few moments.
After some thought he finally did arrive at “To resolve, solve or enjoy all that life has in store for me that day, and many times all three of these are deliciously intertwined.”
Another friend sounded mildly harassed and after giving me a half-hearted answer, which I knew was far from the truth or what I assumed should be the truth, made few subtle and not so subtle attempts to change the subject.
But as I dwell on it today, each individual’s truth comes in a different colour giving each one of us a unique richness and varied but beautiful shades of character.
Do I blame any of them? For not wanting to deep dive and really answer probably the reason for their existence, not in the least actually since I haven’t been able to ‘zero in’ on the answer for myself, and in their defence, I did spring this question on them out of nowhere trying to get candid answers.
We are so busy in our own daily hustles, challenges, even joys that somewhere we may lose focus of what is it that keeps us going. It does take a question like this sometimes to catch us unaware and force us to think.
Sometimes we may have meandered quite a distance away, from where we actually want to be, making it not the most pleasant thought to dwell on, but this discomfort is good to wake us up from our reverie and egg us on, as I discovered myself.
For most of us the primary answer would be our loved ones, but what beyond that?
If we look at the Japanese connotation, Ikigai also signifies a feeling of well-being and the pure joy of just being alive. I doubt we feel this or more so let ourselves feel this pure unadulterated joy of just being alive. Between team meetings, power point presentations, managing the house, travelling, meeting deadlines, those moments of just feeling happy for no reason or plenty of reasons are more often than not, lost.
Picture Courtesy: Pinterest
Finding my Ikigai…
Ikigai also could mean multiple things to one person, for me among other things writing becomes my Ikigai it makes me a happier person, giving me a sense of fulfilment, so does meeting people, as a journalist besides covering the business aspect in the media space. I always wanted to know what made the person he/she was today, what made them tick, what made them do what they did. Capturing the essence of translating conversations into the written form which countless people would read would give me immense satisfaction.
Ikigai does not have to be a lofty ideal like world peace, but could also mean, changing consumer behaviour through product innovation, challenging norms through path breaking advertising or seeing the look on your infant’s face when she runs to you with love in her eyes and arms outstretched, giving you a sense of well-being and happiness and becoming the starting point for many other things.
Creating and building a Legacy…
One commonality that emerged after numerous conversations with many individuals from diverse backgrounds is that each and every one of us wants to be a part of creating and building something that we can be known by, the mere sense of creation also gives us a great sense of fulfilment.
Further the sense of leaving something behind after you, for which you will be known by, is undoubtedly a feeling many of us work towards.
If you are one of these people, like I am; are you then on the right track? Are you working towards your goal, or have you been sidetracked?
It took me some time of honest reflection and introspection to discover and rediscover my Ikigai and I am still on that journey, it is never too late to discover yours…