Finding Your Ikigai

At the start of the new year, I decided my morning routine needed an update. So, I created a small space in the corner of our bedroom that the British call a “snug.”  A snug is a small, cozy space where you can relax. I turned my comfy chair around to face the sliding glass door to the view outside. I added a lamp to the table beside it along with a candle, my favorite pen, readers, my journal, a daily devotional, a soft blanket, a small space heater, and a coffee mug warmer. It’s cozy and snug for sure. I just love settling in every morning to meditate, journal, set my intentions for the day, and do some simple breathing and stretching exercises. It has been a game changer for me in every aspect of my life.

It has created a state of what the Japanese call “ikigai.” Ikigai is a state of wellbeing that arises from devotion to activities that one enjoys which also bring a sense of fulfillment. Ken Mogi, a neuroscientist and author of Awakening Your Ikigai (2018, p. 3), says that ikigai is an ancient and familiar concept for the Japanese, which can be translated simply as “a reason to get up in the morning” or, more poetically, “waking up to joy.

It is said that everyone has an ikigai – their particular intersection of passion, talent, and potential to benefit others. It is only a matter of finding it. The journey to ikigai might require time, deep self-reflection, and effort, but it is one worth pursuing. I believe a morning routine helps to refocus our energies in this way each day.

Even when we work hard, as some believe we must to succeed, if we are living within our ikigai, we will also feel a sense of joy within the work. This time of quiet reflection allows me to adjust and continually realign with what matters, where my greatest joy lies, and what my next most guided steps are today.

Living in this state of flow in my life and work has allowed me to make better health choices during the day, say no to things not on my path, and feel joy in the “now” rather someday down the road. Ikigai has been shown to influence immune function and increase life expectancy, reduce anxiety, and improve resilience with life’s twists and turns. In a complex world, these are great reasons to set your alarm a few minutes earlier and invest in yourself.

Searching for one’s ikigai is to search for one’s reason for being, our reason for waking each day joyfully. So, this week, consider carving out a small “snug” somewhere for yourself, setting your alarm for 15-20 minutes earlier than you would normally arise, and centering yourself each morning to continually realign with that which brings you joy, purpose, and contribution.

“In the heart of ikigai lies the rhythm of life, harmonizing work and leisure.”

~ ZellaLife


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