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Finding Ikigai

In Japanese, iki means “life” while gai means “value” or “worth.” So ikigai (pronounced “eye-ka-guy”) is about finding your life’s purpose so that everything you do becomes satisfying, worthwhile, and balanced.  

In their best-selling book Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life, authors Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles interviewed the residents of Ogimi, Okinawa, a Japanese village with the highest percentage of 100-year-olds. They discovered that ikigai is one of the reasons for these villagers’ longevity.

“Research into the causes of premature aging has shown that stress has a lot to do with it,” Garcia and Miralles write. “[But] being in a hurry is inversely proportional to quality of life. As the old saying goes, ‘Walk slowly and you’ll go far.’ When we leave urgency behind, life and time take on new meaning.​ Looking back, our days in Ogimi were intense but relaxed—sort of like the lifestyle of the locals, who always seemed to be busy with important tasks but who, upon closer inspection, did everything with a sense of calm. They were always pursuing their ikigai, but they were never in a rush.”

Practicing ikigai will not guarantee that you will live up to 100, but it can certainly help make your life happy and purposeful. If you want to find your ikigai, take time to answer the questions below: 

  1. What do I love?

The question speaks to your PASSION. Answers can be concrete (i.e. photography, community service) or intangible (i.e. inspiring others, appreciating beautiful things).  

  1. What am I good at?

This refers to your PROFESSION. Sometimes the things you love (#1) will also be the things you are good at, although it’s not always the case. If you are struggling to define what you are good at, ask family and close friends for their inputs. 

  1. What does the world need from me?

This is your MISSION in life. Create a list of things you can offer the world if you are called upon. 

  1. What can I get paid for?

This question is focused on your VOCATION. What do you do that will pay the bills? List everything – planning, teaching, marketing, writing, cooking, etc. 

After you have answered all these questions start to look for commonalities. Are there obvious intersections among the four categories? If yes, then congratulations, that is your ikigai. The next step is to find a way to express ikigai in your work and home; once you have done so, you will feel happy, enthusiastic, and satisfied with the rest of your life.

Written by Jac of MindNation

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Mental Health 101 Self Help

Making meaningful connections in the time of social distancing

While having alone time is a great way to recharge, extended periods of isolation can be detrimental to your health. In the past, many of us may have felt lonely from time to time. These feelings are usually short-term and don’t usually harm our mental health. However, the longer the quarantine goes on, these feelings turn long-term and can be associated with increased risk of mental health problems including depression, anxiety, and increased stress.

While it is imperative that everyone isolate at home during this time, social isolation or social distancing does not mean that we no longer have opportunities to connect with those we love. Thanks to technology and social media, there are many unique ways we can maintain ties and strengthen relationships while respecting social distancing rules. Here are some ways:

Create online gatherings to celebrate special occasions. If you typically celebrate birthdays by eating out as a group, you can still do that in the virtual world. Download video conferencing apps like Zoom or RingCentral, then spread the word that everyone has to be online at a specified time with their own meals at the ready. When everyone has logged on, dine together! And even if there are no occasions to celebrate, it will still be fun to make video chats with friends and family a regular thing.

Make new rituals. Miss your teachers and classmates at the yoga studio or the Zumba class? Has Sunday mass been part of your weekly ritual? You can still do all these through social media tools like Facebook Live or Instagram Stories. Muster up the discipline/motivation to make worship or working out part of your lockdown routine, as if it were the pre-pandemic days, just so you still have a semblance of connection and normalcy.

Tired of video calls? Try playlist collaborations or watch parties. Sure, video calls can get quite tiring. We can connect with those we love by sharing music and flicks we’ve been hooked on. (It’s also a great way to find new songs and titles to love!) Spotify has a feature where you and your friends can collaborate on Playlists, and Netflix Parties enable you to watch new movies or series simultaneously with cool chat features!

Help however you can. If you are in a position to give assistance to those who are in seemingly tougher situations (i.e. senior citizens living alone, front liners), you can do so safely, perhaps by having food delivered to them, or contributing money to fundraising activities. Volunteerism has been proven to have a positive effect on one’s emotional well-being, as well as make you feel that you are part of the community.

While it is for our absolute safety and the safety of those we love to keep physical distance, it does not translate to being emotionally distant as well. Now more than ever, we should find cooler and creative ways to show love and support especially to those who need it most!

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Written by Jacq Chua of MindNation