Ikigai — It’s not a fish

People living on the islands of Okinawa and Sardinia are more likely to reach 100 years of age than people living anywhere on earth.  These people attribute their long lives not to healthy eating, leisure living, or great genes, but to a term they love to use — ikigai which in essence means “sense of purpose.”

To expand it a little, ikigai is related to positive life-satisfaction, self-esteem, morale and a sense of having meaning in one’s life.  So people who possess ikigai have defined “that which makes one’s life worth living.”  Unfortunately there is not really an American English equivalent word, but we certainly understand the concept – it’s what all of us long for as well.

This goes beyond a basic spiritual sense of purpose and eternal connection.  Having resolved our spiritual position, it’s that feeling that our life is valuable and that our future is worthwhile, even if our present circumstances are dark.  In studies of these island dwellers it appears that having <i>ikigai</i> is not connected to economic status at all.

Now what about you?  Is your sense of having purpose and a life worth living independent of your circumstances, or has your current economic situation also deflated your confidence in the value of your life?   While the holiday season can be a delightful time of year, for some this upcoming month will also be stressful, emotionally taxing and a reminder that goals were not achieved this year.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • Do I know where I stand spiritually and have resolved how I will spend eternity?
  • Have I discovered my “purpose” now — here on earth?
  • Is there anything on my goal list for 2008 that I can still accomplish with a little focused effort?
  • What did I accomplish this year that I should be celebrating? (It’s easy to get too busy to notice all you have accomplished.)
  • What can I do to have a daily sense of ikigai in 2009?

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