Some populations of the Japanese islands live up to one hundred years, and above all in good physical and mental health. In addition to eating habits, there is what is called Ikigai and that would explain not only longevity, but above all the joy of living and inner peace that characterize these populations. Focus on Ikigai.
Ikigai: no more anxiety!
Stress is the first enemy of health. The state of permanent stress in which most people find themselves in the face of economic, professional or social difficulties represents the main risk factor for their health. Stress is best understood in relation to deep anxiety, the absence of one’s own drive or meaning in life. In other words, when you are moved by a well-defined goal, passion, or values, you move forward on your life path quite serenely, despite the difficulties. But it is clear that anxiety and stress are the main ills of our time.
While westerners suffer from anxiety, blue zone populations seem to be bathing in total zen.
Okinawa is the best known of the Blue Zones, an island in the Ryuku archipelago in southern Japan. The “blue zones” of the globe, being those areas where there are more centenarians than anywhere else. A rough translation of “Ikigai” would be “that which makes life worth living.” A kind of “reason for being”, a “why do I get up in the morning”, “it is the spice of life”, “it is what I concentrate on”, like an axis on which we can return, an anchor for that we can hold on Jean-Christophe Dulot makes a very complete description of it in his book “Calming the mind” (Jouvence, 2018).
The author went to collect many testimonies on the Japanese island, reports that there was a common point for each Ikigai. Most of the time, there is one link to another.
For some it may be “music” or “cooking”, for others it will be “taking care of my mother”, “taking care of my dog”, “cultivate my garden”…
Finding your “Ikigai” requires a long and deep search for yourself. His discovery would bring satisfaction and meaning to life.
We could replace the term “find” with “identify”, because this Ikigai would be easily identifiable if we take the trouble to observe our life course, the difficulties or obstacles that have been significant, the great sensations or the unforgettable emotions. All this represents a set of extremely useful information if we want to discover the deep engine behind our lives.
To find your Ikigai, Jean-Christophe Dulot suggests that you ask yourself 4 questions and take the time to answer them in the following days.
- What do you like ?
- Which are your attributes ?
- What are your values?
- What does the world need?
What if I can’t find it?
If you still can’t find that inner drive that’s unique to you, if you continue to feel anxious despite professional or social “successes”…think about setting intentions. In other words, in the absence of a stable and anchored Ikigai in you, there is an intermediate stage that consists of setting intentions.
An intention is a state of mind, an inner movement that leads us towards a goal.
Before setting an intention, Jean-Christophe Dulot invites you to take the time to answer the following three questions:
- What do you want ?
- What needs does it cover?
- How would you feel if your wish came true?
The “What do you want?” could be more specific with “What do you want to transform that prevents you from feeling at peace?” »
1. Your friends tell you that they feel like you’re hovering when you’re around them and you don’t hear them.
You feel that they have less fun being with you and it makes you ruminate
- You want to change that and be more “present” in the relationship to feed needs for exchange, sharing, listening, communicating, respecting, raising awareness…
And when you think about it, you tell yourself that if you could do it, you would feel proud, recognized, curious, satisfied…
2. You are so in your mind that you dissect all the actions of the people around you, you feel that you are staying in this gear, that it is blocking your relationships and isolating you from your joy of living
- You tell yourself that if you asked yourself fewer questions, you would be less cold and less calculating with others. It would satisfy your need for inner peace, cooperation, calm, human warmth.
If you fulfilled these needs, you would feel in your place, appreciated, light, open… 3. You live in a noisy environment and you sleep badly, you wake up tired in the morning and make impossible scenarios so that your neighbors move fast.
You are fed up with this situation and, furthermore, you do not feel comfortable with this way of thinking that generates discomfort and guilt.
- So he decides to reverse the trend by changing his mindset as he moves.
This would satisfy your need for recovery, rest, calm, balance and you would feel rested, calm, dynamic and playful.
It is from there that you will create the formula or statement that you will align with. This is what it could give, relative to the examples cited above:
- I want to be more present in my discussions with friends;
- I develop a quality of listening to others;
- I calm down and rediscover my joy of living;
- I interact daily with my goals;
- I am moving to a more peaceful and rejuvenating place to live;
- I manage to empty my head when I fall asleep;
- I become kind to myself to be more open to others.
magnifying glass and compass
To help you move forward, Jean-Christophe Dulot suggests that you put two items in your resource bag:
- The first is the compass.
The one that allows you to stay focused on your goals, your intentions and the meaning of your life. Whenever you feel restless, pull out your compass and ask yourself, “Where do I want to go? ”, “Where does it take me to think, act in such and such a way? Following the compass needle will put you back in touch with what you want to experience and put you back on the right path.
Your mind, focused on your axis, will find a sense of security and calm. The compass helps you align with your intention.
- The second is the magnifying glass. The one that allows you to fan the flame within you by focusing on your intentions and your Ikigai.
When you point the magnifying glass at a piece of paper and you move, you go all over the place, the movements of your hands dissipate or scatter (just like your mind sometimes), nothing happens. When you stabilize the loupe on a precise point (an intention, a direction), the rays are concentrated at the point and the blade can then light up. The magnifying glass also allows you to align with the intention.
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