The other day I finished reading “Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life” by Héctor García and Francesc Miralles. Although it wasn’t a super short read, it was easy. The concept of ikigai, which generally speaking means your “purpose for being”, was well explained. The basis of the book are the residents of Okinawa, many of whom have lived to be over 100 years old. I can’t speak for everyone about whether or not the idea of being able to live so long is an exhilarating or terrifying one.
But for me, it’s a little bit of both.
Whether your goal is to live a long healthy life or just a better one this book is worth reading. One of the biggest takeaways for me was the idea of constantly moving and working, but doing so at things you love. It’s long been speculated that you can be happy and make money at the same time if only you can find the thing you’re meant to do. That can be such a daunting order to fill. But, I’m not so sure it has to be.
The message I got from this book was that the thing that makes you happiest, that thing you can spend hours doing and not care if you’ve eaten or not, can also be the thing that you turn into a career. Sometimes it isn’t and that’s okay too. The lesson there is that, while the thing you love to do might not end up being your job, it is the thing you’re meant to do. It’s your ikigai, your purpose.
For me, it’s writing. One day I do hope to have published works and a career in writing. But even if I never work myself to the notoriety level of Stephen King I’ll keep working. I feel right and at peace when I’m writing, even something like this. It’s my purpose. So don’t be discouraged by how the world reacts to your efforts to make a go of it with what makes you happy. Keep working, keep trying, keep embracing your purpose.
If you don’t know yours yet that’s okay too. It might take a while. Just keep trying new things and learning all that you can about yourself, and one day you might stumble across yours too.