Ikigai: The pathway to a better life

The world is full of information and distractions. The former has the power to make your life easier if you can swim through the ocean of the latter. Books that introduce you to your very roots & teach you how to lead your life in the best way are gems to be preserved. Ikigai is one such gem, which has gained wide recognition in recent times.

What is Ikigai?

Is there a magical way to transform our lives? How do people in certain countries, cities seem to be leading a more peaceful and happy life? Well, the spell is cast by the lifestyle & traditions practiced in these regions for decades. Ikigai introduces us to this magic.

I was searching for options for my next read, when one of my friends suggested, “Ikigai”. Checking the reviews, I was a bit surprised by the immense impact the book has made in the lives of people across the globe. Once I started reading the book, I got the answer.

Finding your Ikigai

“Ikigai” is a Japanese word that means “a reason for being”.  Each one of us has our ikigai. While you might be wondering, what is my ikigai? If you have this question, your ikigai is hidden deep within you, waiting to be discovered. The process for finding your reason for being is a story for another day!

Learnings from Ikigai for a better life

The book provides simple practices followed by people in a few Japanese communities, which ensure a more healthy, productive & contented life.

1.  The 80% rule

Each one of us has experienced the sweet sleep induced by a heavy meal.  While an extra pie or a gulab jamun after a heavy lunch seems to be harmless, it leads to accelerated cellular oxidation. This fuels early aging & causes health implications.

The solution is simple yet very impactful. Follow the 80% rule that means eat till your stomach is 80 % full. Wondering if there is any mechanism to measure if your stomach is 50% or 80% or 100% full? The easy way is to stop eating as soon as you start feeling full & you will approximately achieve the 80% mark.

2. Stay connected, stay happy

Family & Friends = Long life

My mother used to push my introvert self to make friends & stay connected with people. She used to state a quote by Aristotle, “He who is unable to live in society, or who has no need because he is enough for himself, must be either a beast or a god.”

There is a lot of scientific research behind the concept of happiness induced by the company of friends and family.

So, stay connected with your family, friends, meet new people & be approachable. I know it may sound challenging for people who find it difficult to say hello to the next person, but there is no harm in taking small steps at a time.

I started by joining an online travel community and being part of volunteering activities. It has helped me in taking small steps towards building lasting connections.

3. Health = Wealth

The wonders exercise, good diet, meditation, yoga, and a healthy lifestyle can do to our body & mind needs no mention.

Mind

Stress due to professional responsibilities & personal issues is also a result of running our daily routine in an autopilot mode. Watching tv while having a meal was a must for me. As a result, I could hardly recall what I had for breakfast by evening.

Many of us have similar habits. In the desire to be a multitasker, we lose much-needed mindfulness. I don’t deny the fact that some of us might have the ability to perform many tasks with the desired levels of productivity. But are we the one, is the question we need to ask ourselves.

Meditation = Mind Workout

To develop mindfulness & keep our think tank healthy check out a few pointers.

  • Meditation (Or mind workout)
  • Sleep enough (7-9 hours)
  • Stay positive
  • Celebrate small moments in life

Body

Exercise, Exercise & Exercise.

But what to do if there is no gym nearby?

A few minute changes in your daily life can keep your body fit & fine.

  • Take the stairs instead of lifts
  • Play with kids, pets or join a sport
  • Soak in the sunshine for a few minutes every day
  • Change your posture after every 30 minutes
  • Yoga practices like sun salutation (Surya Namaskar)
  • Breathing practices or Pranayama

Diet

Rainbow plate
  • Eat healthily & avoid the junk, but most importantly, know the effect of what you eat.
  • Create a rainbow plate: Eat wide varieties of vegetables & fruits that are of different colors.
  • Include food & beverages rich in antioxidants, like carrots, tofu, and green tea, in your diet.

4. Create a flow

Is there any task that makes you forget the chaos of the outer world? Any activity which you can do for hours without getting exhausted?

Such tasks create a flow within you, which leads to the best output. For example, I can paint for hours without getting tired. Now, not all of us have jobs that create a flow-on its own. But a few steps can help you generate one.

Take up a challenging task

One task at a time (Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com)

A difficult task helps. But what if you do not have the privilege to choose the task?

Even if you have to perform activities, which seem mundane, you can convert it into a microflow. A new term for me too, it means creating a set of steps for performing any task and trying to complete them in the best way possible.

How about trying to clean the utensils in the best way possible next time?

Be clear about the motive behind the task

How can a porter make pottery if she doesn’t have a clue of the desired results? It’s essential to know your goal before any task. But, once you have started working, don’t get obsessed with the results.

Does an athlete keep wondering about the beauty of the medal once the race starts?

One task at a time

But how? Simple, reduce distractions.

  • Limit your social media time.
  • Avoid checking the phone first thing in the morning.
  • On a weekend go for a tech fast or stay away from gadgets for a few hours a day. I tried this for a few Sundays, by locking my phone and laptop in the drawer. I spent the entire day painting, cooking, spending time with my parents, in short, doing things I love.
  • Combine tasks that need the same kind of resources and do them simultaneously.
  • Follow the Pomodoro technique (25 minutes of work followed by 5 minutes of break). This turned out to be quite helpful for me as concentrating for long hours seems a challenge.

5.  Be antifragile

Focus on the goal

Or be stronger when external forces try to harm you. A few mechanisms to develop antifragility:

Don’t put all your eggs in a single basket

In professional life, it can mean having an alternative source of income by turning a hobby into one possibly.

In the personal domain, I leave that to individual interpretations. For me, it means not relying on one friend/one connection entirely.

Take risks

Calculated, well thought through risks are essential for continuous growth.

No space for fragility inducers

Say no to social media addiction

I had a habit of scrolling through my Instagram page for hours and checking my mail every next hour. Just get rid of such habits, toxic people and, the environment. At first, it may seem hard, as we get comfortable in their presence. But clearing the space for good things to come, isn’t that worth the sacrifice?

I am trying to implement many of these learnings in my own life and it has made a significant impact. already. “Wired Tales” is an outcome of these. But it’s an ongoing process.

Do try these learnings in your day to day life & witness the magic of Ikigai.

And yes, Ikigai is indeed a must-read.

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