Ikigai; The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life.

According to the Japanese, Ikigai is your passion, your mission, your profession, the reason you get out of bed in the morning or the French phrase, your ‘raison d’être, the most important reason or purpose for someone or something’s existence. What is important in your life? What floats your boat? Find this and you are on your way to discovering and experiencing Ikigai.

” Only those who remain busy want to become hundred ” – Japanese proverb

When you have discovered your Ikigai you have your passion and you dont’ want to retire or remove yourself from living. Your life has a purpose, you make plans and are engaged in the here and now.

The elderly of Okinawa (an area in Japan) never retire. Many start their day spending time in their gardens, where they grow many of the vegetables they eat and share with neighbours. Their day can then be filled with their occupation, activity or professions often ending with time in social clubs or specific groups of friends with similar interests. Their days are full and many are still thriving well into their 80’s and 90’s.

They share an ethos that the only time is the present, everything is temporary and this is what leads to a greater appreciation of life and who and what we have right now. Nothing is permanent and change, although challenging can have its own beauty whilst we focus on the here and now.

Stress can have a negative impact on our health. Meditation is an example to reduce stress, having a simple daily routine of small tasks can help ground us during periods of feeling overwhelmed.

Everyone in Okinawa stays physically active, walking each day, spending time in their gardens or dancing at one of their social clubs! They see physical inactivity as an indicator for decline; moderately intensive movement of your body equals a longer life. Equally, getting enough sleep and rest is important.

Nutrition: A healthy diet is of course very important. The diet on Okinawa is also called the ”wonderdiet”. It’s for example important to eat a variety of foods and not to overeat. The centenarians eat hardly any sugar. Often only 1x per week and then they choose cane sugar. They eat a lot of tofu and sweet potatoes and about 300 grams of vegetables per day. They eat a variety of foods and mostly plant-based. They also eat grains on a daily basis and eat small portions of everything several times a day. (The Green Creator)

Moving Forward

Build a social network with friends, friends, family and neighbours. On Okinawa, groups were created for people to meet regularly to spend time with each other and be supported in difficult times.

Taking part in activities and occupation, learning new things, helps to keep our minds active.

Go out in the nature, smile and be grateful.

Counting to Ten

When you need to pause and not act in haste
Counting to Ten

Were you ever told to “Count to Ten” when a situation was maybe going badly for you? How was counting to ten ever going to change the situation? You were still going to be angry or upset, the situation was going to be the same wasn’t it?

Apparently, the brain knows a full six seconds ahead of any decision or choice we are about to make however impulsively or reactively we may think we are making those decisions or choices. Raising a hand to adjust your glasses, the brain will know six seconds before you do it. Left or right? The brain will know which way you will turn. Before we even think we have made a choice or decision the brain is already sending out the signals to the rest of the body. By counting to ten, you are giving yourself a four second opt out option from maybe a disastrous decision or choice, especially one made on impulse or reactively. Counting to ten allows a pause, a re-evaluation of the situation and the opportunity for a less reactive decision or choice to be made. Either way the brain will know six seconds beforehand.

Moving Forward

Try counting to ten before making any Impulsive or reactive decisions or choices.

Goal Setting Part 2

Goal Setting

Following the holiday theme of my first piece on Goal Setting, consider passion. That’s not a word used much in everyday language today, well not for most of us. Stress, anxiety and worry are words that are very much in common usage for most of us but I would like you to think about passion in the context of planning a holiday. The word excitement also springs to mind. When thinking about Goal Setting, how often do we allow ourselves to be passionate about the Goal, feel excited about attaining it? If we are not passionate or excited is it any surprise if we give up at the earliest opportunity, or do not succeed? We need energy for us to take the action. In our holiday metaphor this might be money or quite literally the petrol in our cars. To achieve our Goals we also need energy and often it is the passion and excitement of wanting these things that fuels our actions helping us to succeed.

There is also the realisation that we often picture ourselves at our holiday destination; lying on the exotic beach, undertaking the safari, working at conserving that ancient piece of woodland. Visualising our selves already having achieved our Goals are powerful drives for action. What is the Goal, the target? How would it look, what would it feel like? Our imagination can give us the images of success in attaining our Goals. All of which assist us in undertaking the actions or tasks that can some times be mundane and sometimes daunting to achieve those Goals.

Maybe there is a need to question the Goal setting if it does not bring about passion or excitement. Maybe there are questions about whether this is what you really want? If the Goal set is not really what you want, then the question is, what do you really want? What fills you with passion and excitement? Where does your imagination take you when you visualise your wildest dreams? These might seem on the one hand the most unattainable Goals, but I would ask you to consider how you would not be able to attain them when you have passion and excitement and preparation and planning?

Remember that each Goal is attained by breaking it down into tasks. This is the same for the mundane Goals we set ourselves everyday and for the holiday we plan for once a year, and finally for the Goal or Target that can transform our lives with out the aid of a magic wand but by being fuelled by passion and excitement.

Moving Forward

What do you want to do in your life that fills you with passion and excitement?

What planning and preparation would you need to do to start your journey to that Goal?

Are you going to let red Lights and road blocks really put you off track?

Goal Setting

goal setting

People are telling us all the time to set Goals and all will be well, our lives improved etc. But what does it mean to set a Goal? When we’ve set it, how do we achieve it? Do we now just sit and wait or maybe wave a magic wand, to see our Goal miraculously materialise before us, all completed and our lives transformed?

Goal Setting is actually talking about the end of a journey that we undertake, our Goal is the target we hope to hit at the end of the journey. Make no mistake, it is about taking action. So, any journey involves taking steps. Thankfully with having set a Goal, we at least now know the direction we need to be heading to reach it. Some Goals, like journeys, take a short while, a hop on the bus and we’re there, others might involve more time and more tasks involved.

Preparation and planning are the key when planning a journey, even a quick trip to the corner shop involves checking we have our house keys and purse or wallet. Goal achieving, which is the step after Goal setting involves preparation and planning, these are the first of your actions.

What do you need to do to achieve your Goal? What tasks or actions are involved? What time frame are you hoping to complete by? What assists you and what blocks you? How can you get past the blocks? Would you stop your journey to a holiday destination if there were problems on the road? Would you turn round and go home because you had hit a red light? At what point would you consider giving up such a journey? I suspect for many of us it would have to be something huge to put us off getting to that holiday destination and all our hopes and aspirations surrounding that week or two we have worked and planned for all year. Yet many of us give up at even the smallest perceived obstacle to achieving our Goals. So often our Goals are even bigger and better than our two week holiday away and yet we often invest very little of ourselves in achieving them. We often do not pursue them with any of the planning and preparation we put into the most insignificant task that we might undertake everyday. Is it any wonder that we fail?

We fail to break down our Goals into tasks or steps to make the goal achievable. Do we set unachievable Goals? How will we know if we do not invest time and energy into getting them. Break the Goal down into the smallest steps possible. Planning a trip or holiday involves getting the brochures or travel times etc. We often forget the small first steps we take. We often do not notice because they are so familiar. We naturally check if our passport is in date, what the exchange rate is etc. These are all the small building blocks for a trip and a goal starts with just the same small building blocks upon which you achieve success.

Moving Forward

Take notice of how you break down even the simplest of tasks.

Make a note of the steps involved in the most mundane activity.

Consider a Goal you might have been putting off because it seemed too difficult or unachievable. What might be the very first steps?