Ever find yourself wondering where you’re heading in life? We all have. Life’s like this never-ending rollercoaster, always twisting and turning.
And change? Well, it’s the one thing that’s certain. It keeps things spicy but can be hard too, thanks to our brains that are hardwired to dislike change. It’s all about avoiding threats and danger.
Now, with life’s whirlwind pace, many of us are looking for that “reset” button. We’re figuring out what really matters, what we want to be doing more of, and where we’d like to be in the future. It’s all about creating a better, more purposeful life.
In Japan, there’s this concept called “ikigai,” which is essentially your reason for jumping out of bed in the morning. The folks in Okinawa, who happen to be some of the longest-living people on the planet, believe that finding your ikigai is the secret to a longer, happier life.
This form of happiness does not depend on external circumstances but rather comes from the inner self. It is actually about what we contribute to life rather than what we get out of it.
So how can you discover your own ikigai?
1) Enjoy your own company
Take some quality “me time” and focus on yourself. Forget about checking your emails or scrolling through social media.
Slow down and disconnect from your usual hustle and bustle. In today’s hyperconnected world, we often find ourselves wrapped up in an endless loop of tasks, social media notifications, emails, and deadlines.
This non-stop momentum can leave us feeling stressed, overwhelmed, and disconnected from our true selves and our real purpose in life.
It’s up to you how you spend this time. Maybe it’s curling up with a good book, taking a leisurely walk, doing some yoga, or simply sitting in silence and doing absolutely nothing. Think of it as a mini-vacation for your mind.
2) Be your own best friend
Remember, it’s okay to mess up sometimes. Instead of beating yourself up, show yourself some compassion. Dr. Kristin Neff talks about how it’s essential to treat ourselves kindly and be mindful of our emotions.
Self-compassion recognizes that suffering and personal inadequacies are part of the shared human experience. Reminding ourselves that it is all something we go through rather than thinking it is something that happens to “me” alone is reassuring and helps us to feel connected with others.
By being open-hearted to ourselves, it actually helps us to be more compassionate to others.
3) Get mindful
Meditation and mindfulness have tons of benefits, from physical health to emotional stability.
It is not just about feeling calmer. The relaxation response, the state of calmness after meditating, affects genes that are related to our immune system.
Meditation changes the brain. It increases the prefrontal region of the brain and slows down the thinning process that occurs as we age. They can even slow down the ageing process and who wouldn’t want that?
For those of us who tend to have a mind like a runaway train when under stress and which at times can be difficult to tame, practicing mindfulness meditation can brings with it a sense of wellbeing and genuine happiness, irrespective of what is happening externally.
4) Embrace Mother Nature
Spend some time outdoors. Whether it’s a walk in the woods, lounging by the beach, or stargazing, it helps you see the bigger picture. In our frenetic, connected world, many of us suffer from nature deficit disorder.
And, if you’re up for it, try the Japanese practice of forest bathing or shinrin-yoku for a full-blown nature immersion. Studies have shown that spending mindful, intentional time around trees can promote health and happiness.
Take a step back and evaluate your life. Ask yourself what makes you happy, what drains you, and what you value most. This reflection is a critical step in figuring out where you’re headed.
It is important to reflect without judging yourself. This is also an opportunity to clarify your core values, your intrinsic motivation and how you want to behave and act in all situations. Basically, this is how you are true to yourself.
6) Define success for yourself
Success doesn’t have to mean a big paycheck or a fancy title. It can be about emotional, spiritual, and physical wellbeing, relationships, personal mastery and how you can contribute.
Of course, we all need a certain level of security, safety and comfort. There is nothing wrong with having material goals, but if that’s all you focus on you may feel a lack in your life.
7) Picture your dream life
Imagine where you want to be in the future and what you want your life to look like. Write a letter to your future self, describing your ideal life, or if you’re feeling really introspective, try writing your own eulogy to clarify what matters most to you and how you want to be remembered.
David Brooks says in his TED Talk, “Should you live for your resume… or your eulogy?”
To wrap it up, if you’re scratching your head wondering, “What am I doing with my life?” or “What am I here for?” – congrats! You’re already on the path to finding your purpose. Just follow these steps and you’ll get there.
- Enjoy your own company
- Be your own best friend
- Embrace mother nature
- Get mindful
- Define success for yourself
- Reflect, reflect and reflect
- Picture your dream life
If you’re struggling to work out what it is you really want in your life, join my completely free 5-day challenge, Reset Your Life Compass. It will help you take a good look at your life, find out what truly matters to you, and what it is you want for a happier, more fulfilling future. Click here to learn more.
You’ll discover the art of personal journaling, an empowering tool that can dramatically reshape your life’s path. You’ll not just gain insights but will also develop your personalized plan to navigate your way towards your dream life.
Dare to dream. Dare to change. Reset your life compass and start your journey to a brighter and fulfilling future!
Just remember to embrace curiosity, keep an open mind, and most importantly, enjoy the journey. Happy ikigai hunting!