Many many moons ago, I lived in Japan. The Japanese live life well. Despite the technological advances, they appreciate the simple things in life.
A phrase often heard from kindergarten kids to 90 year olds is ‘ikigai.‘ Before I fully understood the translation of the word, which as luck would have it has become a borrowed word in the English language, I got it. I got it, because the ever so helpful body language told me all I needed to know.
Ikigai has the guaranteed side effect of smiling, a warm fuzzy feeling and heartfelt happiness
The dictionary or hand held electronic translation (yep that used to be a thing kids) wasn’t necessary because the obligatory accompaniment to ‘ikigai’ was a smile, a warm glow or a hand placed over the heart that often triggered a smile.
The body language, was usually accompanied by some kind of action, be it flower arranging, a tea ceremony, tending the garden, growing veg, keeping chickens, writing, painting, playing tennis, swimming, walking, doing yoga, practising martial arts. An endless list….. Ikigai, is an activity or feeling that one enjoys in the moment when doing something one loves.
A love affair with the living of life itself that is true, honest and full of delight.
Ikigai is something money simply can’t buy, it’s without class, without divide, open to all to enjoy, equally.
There isn’t one word in the English language that can sum it up, it is a combination of so much of what we treasure in life. In essence, it’s the reason we get up in the morning, our passion, our ‘go to’ thing in life, that’s beyond a quick fix of Netflix or Amazon Prime. I say that as someone who regularly finds solace in movies and TV series, especially in lockdown days. Deep down, I know that my ikigai is an inner creativity and encouraging others to create.
Creative Carpe Diem
So, look back on your today and if there was joy, look at where that joy was. If it was when you sat down and came to the page or your laptop to write, shooting that scene on the underground with masks, a morning walk, run or playing football. Whatever it was, make it a regular thing if you can. It’s not a to do list or a must have number of words, it’s a desire, a passion, a match that thing or thing(s) that lights your inner fire. So, seize the day and do more of what brings you ikiagi, today, tomorrow and whenever you feel you need a reason to live. If you didn’t experience that today, think about what brings you joy and add it into any time left today and definitely your tomorrows.