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Life & Philosophy

This Japanese philosophy may hold the secret to a happy work life

Gif of old Japanese ladies

Ikigai is a Japanese concept that translates to “a reason for being.” It may also hold the keys to prolonging your life.

At the intersection of ikigai is having a purpose—feeling as though one is contributing to society in a positive way gives them something to live for. Perhaps the best illustration of ikigai exists on the island of Okinawa, where some of the oldest living people in the world practice the philosophy.

A map showing the japanese concept of ikigai

While Japan’s interpretation of the ikigai is a source of value for one’s life, Westerners may use the system as a guidepost for bridging better work and life balance. If you want to better understand the meaning of the concept, consider asking these four questions:

  • What do you love?
  • What are you good at?
  • What does the world need from you?
  • What can you get paid for?

As all life is an experiment, so too is your ikigai which evolves as you age. The more you feel valued, the better.

“We are shaped and fashioned by what we love.”

JOHANN WOLFGANG VON GOETHE

Learn more in the video below.

Categories
Culture Life & Philosophy Politics & Society Psychology

The script, the story

How many of us are just acting our way through life, adapting to different settings like chameleons?

Situational elasticity lends its hand to the collaborative truth, that people inject each other with signaling serum. The slightest twang, the tinkle of dimples, the cleanest tucked-in shirt, belt, and Prada shoes – we try to demonstrate to others ‘this is who I am and this what I do.’

All life is a stage, epitomized through the internet and curated social profiles, with many people reaping the psychological benefits of expectation. We become what we collect, mirror images of our Pinterest boards.

Don’t get it twisted. We should follow the route that builds up the most confidence. We just can’t expect all these visual cues to convert to reality. By nature, we are fickle beings magnetically tugged to our natural impulsiveness.

Most people lead lives of poor self-maintenance: laziness, negativity, and force of habit.

Authenticity requires self-control. The edited self is known to burn out, slip, and go off-script.

To act is life. Like a veil being lifted from our eyes, we choose to narrate beyond the avatars of attention.

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Creativity Productivity & Work

It’s never too late to do something incredible

Everything good takes time.

We have to get comfortable with the idea that the work worth doing almost always never comes to fruition immediately.

Our craft is also likely to be misunderstood for long periods. There will be periods of self-doubt and chapters of confusion, all signals that the muse wants us to keep going.

If we’re 100% certain about where we’re headed, then we need a little more nuance and complexity in our life.

Being vulnerable and taking on challenges fuel aliveness, preventing one from getting too satisfied with results.

As the Japanese artist Hokusai said:

“Until the age of 70, nothing I drew was worthy of notice. At 110, every dot and every stroke will be as though alive.”

Hokusai

If we work on something long enough, it should look just as simple and confounding as when we first found it.

Categories
Life & Philosophy Productivity & Work

A wave of inspiration 

Waves come in all shapes and sizes, propelled by the energy of the wind. But they keep coming, in the rhythm of a ripple, breaking in the morning after the swell.

Inspiration comes and goes like a wave. If you only worked when you felt a spark, you might work fifty days out of the year.

But if you want to keep creating, you’ll need to grind out every day, motivated or not.

Gif of wave Photography by Ray Collins
Photography by Ray Collins

The consistency of waves

Waves show up on shores regardless of wind power. They do their work, rain or shine, ebbing and flowing with the sunlight, undulating up and down or side to side with the slightest of gusts.

Doing all your work at once will lead to a tidal wave of burnout. Instead, what you want to build up is a consistent motion.

You’ll be ill-prepared to ride the wave of opportunity if you rarely show up. Inspiration is fickle; hit the shores with commitment.

Categories
Life & Philosophy

Unique in your perversity

You may be unique in your perversity, always bucking trends and wanting to know more than what’s at face value.

The outlier refuses to live on the whims of an algorithm and let group think colonize parts of their mind.

Interesting people always dig deeper, going above and beyond the most comprehensive snapshots of reality.

Making a plethora of connections, the anomaly also finds the time and space to air out the neurons.

To think different produces a mark for decades. So you keep evolving, breaking experiences into pieces.

Categories
Life & Philosophy

Trying too hard to be happy

Everyone’s out there chasing Mr. Smiley. But “happiness must happen,” wrote Viktor Frankl in Man’s Search for Meaning, “and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it.”

The quest for happiness produces the exact opposite of its intention: unhappiness. Keep swimming in the sea of joy, and we’ll cease to be so. The extra effort makes one miserable.

We try too hard to be happy when everything we want is on the other side of fear. What we want is to be more vulnerable. Everything in life that matters requires risk.

Happy elephant, Trying too hard to be happy?
via welcometonature/twitter

Dancing with the unknown and thinking unhappy thoughts is at the heart of finding satisfaction.

The storm never ends, the faster we accept that, the quicker we can land contentment which is happy just being itself.