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Life & Philosophy

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

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.

This Japanese philosophy may hold the secret to a happy work life
Photo: Dreamstime/Toronto Star Graphic

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

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.

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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.

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Books Quotes

Emil Cioran: “We are all geniuses when we dream…”

Emil Cioran: "We are all geniuses when we dream..."
The Temptation to Exist

“Anyone can escape into sleep, we are all geniuses when we dream, the butcher’s the poet’s equal there.”

Emil Cioran, The Temptation to Exist
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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.

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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.

Trying too hard to be happy
Photo: Twitter/welcometonature

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.

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Life & Philosophy

Floating into thin air

There’s always something jerking at the brain, wooing it into the warp of distraction.

So if we can just concentrate the mind and wield the paintbrush, maybe we could uncover the pleasure of presence.

There’s something about being in the moment with all our flesh that makes realization realizable.

Instead of casting a wide net into the river, we’re the ones being fished back into reality.

The brain does the walking while the feet adhere. We stroll into our best thoughts like a tourist with fresh eyes.

The ground is near because we’re floating in the air rather than swimming in the sea of uncertainty.

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Life & Philosophy

Quick hits pervert happiness

You can’t solve your problems by simply buying things. Materialism offers a temporary sop of happiness.

Alcoholism is also a crude method for escaping life’s woes. Pursuing short-term satisfaction only paints the surface.

The quick hit — whether a shot of dopamine or a numbing of anxiety — bends to the rhythm of a rollercoaster only for stress and discomfort to volley right back.

Long-term joy comes from the satisfaction of knowing that your health and emotions are in check.

Man is a strange and contradictory animal. He chases immediacy in the hunt for glory.

In feeling invigorated, he lets slip the most beautiful way to live: coming clean in the challenge and opportunity to get the balance right.

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Life & Philosophy Poetry

Searching for the ‘right’ fix

Assumptions provide fence-sitting answers. They are just half-truths that validate how things usually go, band-aids that make us feel safer. The inquisitive mind chases uncertainty and complexity.

“We must be ignorant of what we are looking for, or we would not go looking for it.”

Maurice Merleau-Ponty

Rather, like a dog with a bone, we should be running off for a half-hour to return just as whelmed as when we left. The trick in any activity is to offer the right balance between intrigue and satisfaction, ensuring that it’s interesting enough to revisit it later.

The last thing we want to do is externalize the whimsical nature of life to the certitude of a photo. Life goes on beyond the screen. Memory hinges on context and keeps developing each time the story gets told.

Confidence basks in the chase of uncertainty if only to ensure that the truth remains unfixed. Less fixedly, we validate through a consistent form of experimentation.

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Life & Philosophy

Thinking is hard

People don’t like thinking. It’s painful.

Just as numbering denotes page numbers, we have to get our brain cells to assemble in an attempt to establish some order.

There’s a reason why there are so few philosophers and so many people attending entertainments. Consumption is our default setting.

It is easier to sit back and play our thumbs into inanition. Tinkering with abstract trains of thought to feel our brain transmit nerve impulses takes effort.

The “Thinking Tree”, an ancient olive tree in Puglia, Italy

Humans are thinking machines

It takes courage to challenge ourselves to learn without drawing conclusions.

Society obsesses with absolutes, stuck safely indoors while the explorers coast outside making guesses and predictions with effortless attention.

Magnetically lured to controlling the world, we forget that uncertainty is what makes thinking successful. Ignorance drives the start.

Experimentation begets revelations, which allows one to seize and conceive even more possibilities.

Doing is why there’s knowing, a result of thinking lightly about what could be.

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Life & Philosophy

Be Wary of Advice

The fallacy of giving advice is that what works for one person rarely works for another. Advice is unique and personal, a collection of the mistakes we make, synthesized and abridged for a recipient.

It’s worth giving and listening to advice but no two experiences will ever be the same.

It’s one of my theories that when people give you advice, they’re really just talking to themselves in the past.  

Steve Garguilo

The best advice we can give someone is to encourage them to come up with their own advice. Our words compel them to live and learn from their own aura of experience.