What’s Your Ikigai?
“A man is not old until regrets take the place of dreams.”
Do you remember the TV series “Happy Days”? In one episode, Howard reaches his fiftieth Birthday and Marion throws him a party. She doesn’t understand why he’s not happy about it, but it turns out he’s depressed to reach this milestone age. “It’s middle age!” she says, but he counters, “How many people do you see walking around at a hundred?!”
It’s too soon for me to be thinking about things like old age, but I do know I hope to get there! I read once, that we age the way we saw our parents age. Why? Because that’s how our brains get wired – we see it, we expect it, we live it. Bernardo addresses this topic very well in this video. Maybe we shouldn’t wait until we’re at middle age to start considering old age.
Dan Buettner has visited what he calls “blue zones” in the world, areas of long-living populations, to learn the secret of their longevity. His discoveries are interesting, but what struck me most was his description of ikigai; what gets you out of bed in the morning. This is a step towards a meaningfully long life that we can take today!
He’s talking about purpose, you know; the reason we’re alive! It doesn’t have to be a goal to change the world; it can be an enjoyment of one’s grandchildren! But there has to be something that makes you happy to get out of bed in the morning. When I’m talking to young people about career choices I suggest they find that thing that makes them excited to greet the new day. I didn’t know it was called ikigai. What a great word!
What’s the purpose in your life that brings you joy and keeps you moving through the difficult times? Do you know what your ikigai is?
photo credit: Domenico Salvagnin