Ikigai: no more anxiety!
Stress is the first enemy of health. The permanent state of stress in which most people find themselves facing economic, professional or social difficulties represents the major risk factor for their health. Stress is best understood in relation to deep anxiety, the absence of the very motor or meaning of life. In other words, when you are driven by a goal, a passion or well-defined values, you move forward on your life path in a rather serene way, despite the difficulties. But it is clear that anxiety and stress are the major evils of our time.
While Westerners suffer from anxiety, the populations of the blue zones seem to bathe in total Zen.
Okinawa is the best known of the Blue Zones, an island in the Ryuku archipelago in southern Japan. The “blue zones” on the globe, being those zones where there are more centenarians than anywhere else. A rough translation of “Ikigai” would be “what makes life worth living”. A kind of “raison d’être”, a “why I get up in the morning”, “it’s the salt of life”, “it’s what I focus on”, like an axis on which we can come back, an anchor to which we can cling. Jean-Christophe Dulot gives a very complete description of it in his book “Soothing the mind” (Jouvence, 2018).
The author went to collect many testimonies on the Japanese island, he reports that there was a common point to each Ikigai. Most of the time, there is a link to another.
For some, it can be “music” or “cooking”, for others, it will be “taking care of my mother”, “taking care of my dog”, “cultivating my vegetable garden”…
How do I find my Ikigai?
Finding your “Ikigai” requires a long and deep search for yourself. The discovery of it would bring satisfaction and meaning to life.
We could replace the term “find” by “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 pool of extremely useful information if we want to discover the deep engine behind our life.
To find your Ikigai, Jean-Christophe Dulot suggests that you ask yourself 4 questions, and take the time to answer them in the days that follow.
- What do you like ?
- What are your qualities ?
- 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 which consists in setting intentions.
An intention is a state of mind, an interior movement which carries 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 wish ?
- What needs does it meet?
- How would you feel if your wish came true?
The “What do you wish for?” could be more specific with a “What do you want to transform that prevents you from feeling at peace?” »
1. Your friends tell you that they feel like you’re fluttering when you’re around them and not listening to them.
You feel 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, communication, respect, awareness…
And when you think about it, you say to 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 cutting you off 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 meet your need for inner peace, cooperation, calm, human warmth.
If you met these needs, you would feel in your place, appreciated, light, open… 3. You live in a noisy environment and you sleep badly, you get up tired in the morning and you make impossible scenarios so that your neighbors move quickly.
You are fed up with this situation and, in addition, you do not feel comfortable with this way of thinking which generates discomfort and guilt
- So you decide to reverse the trend by changing your mindset while moving.
It would meet 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 affirmation that you will align yourself with. Here is what it could give, in connection with 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 joie de vivre;
- I relate daily to my goals;
- I move to a quieter and more 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 unsettled, pull out your compass and ask yourself, “Where do I want to go? “, “Where does it take me to think, to act in such and such a way? “. Following your compass needle will put you back in touch with what you want to experience and get you back on track.
Your mind, focused on your axis, will find a feeling of security and calm. The compass helps align you 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, go all over the place, your hand movements are dissipated or dispersed (much like your mind sometimes), nothing happens. When you stabilize the magnifying glass on a precise point (an intention, a direction), the rays are concentrated on the point and the sheet can then ignite. The magnifying glass also allows you to align yourself with the intention.