Ikigai, 生き甲斐, to many of us, whether Asians or Westerners alike, mean a great deal. The phrase means “a reason to get up in the morning”. To put it simply, it means finding the meaning of life.
Although there are many who slog through life without the desire or the energy to find out the meaning of life, there are many of us who truly and humbly seek ikigai, to find meaning, so that we can more readily embrace life, and not simply indulge in activities and tasks just to pass time. After all, time is the most precious asset any one of us can have.
Dr Ken Mogi (茂木健一郎) shares just as an eccletic background as me (I am both a computer programmer, biochem researcher and an artist), having a law degree before he earned a PhD as a brain scientist. He is perhaps very much a philosopher as he is a scientist, and I can identify with his quest for ikigai.
There are many works on ikigai, some written from Asian perspectives, and some from the Western perspectives. But I especially Dr Mogi’s “The Little Book of Ikigai” a great read, because well, it is supposed to be simple. Far too often, academics (and I sometimes fall prey to the same sin) write for fellow academics, rather than embracing the greater populace and helping more people understand things. In this regard, Dr Mogi’s book is a great read for anyone.
Ikigai has 5 simple pillars (until we try to live and breathe it):
- Start small
- Release yourself
- Harmonize and sustain
- Find joy in little things
- Be in the here and now
When we look at a typical business today, all too often, the top brass focuses on being “big”, and neglecting the need to harmonize and sustain the venture. Many executives only focus on the short or even immediate term. Invariably, nobody is happy. So the simple recommendations of the 5 ikigai pillars would help just anyone who may have struggled a great deal from working life, and is deciding to find a simpler, more approachable, and more sustainable way of living life.
Title: The Little Book of Ikigai
Author: Ken Mogi
Genre: Body, Mind & Spirit
Publisher: Hachette UK
Release Date: September 7, 2017
Dr Seamus Phan is the Head of Content and CTO at McGallen & Bolden. He is an expert in branding, marketing, communication, leadership training, crisis management, and entrepreneurship. This article may appear concurrently on his blog. Connect on LinkedIn. ©1984-2018 Seamus Phan et al. All rights reserved.