This quarantine period, find your Ikigai

Image Credit: Clicked by me


Japanese Proverb

I read this book a few months back but thought to write this review now because this quarantine period is the best time to find your ‘Ikigai’. Today is the 18th day of the lockdown and it is expected that lockdown will get extended for two more weeks until April 30. Though a lot of good things are happening due to this unprecedented lockdown, people are also feeling bored and frustrated. This lockdown can be used as a ‘reflection time’ to find out what is that one thing which anyone can do with full happiness, love, and satisfaction.

Ikigai is a Japanese concept which means ‘reason for being’. What is the purpose of your life or what gives you the utmost satisfaction? As per the centenarians from Okinawa, Ikigai is the reason we get up in the morning. When you are so engrossed in your work that nothing around you matters, it means you have found your Ikigai. But it does not apply to any Netflix series 😉 It means that you have immersed yourself into the work that you are doing. You forget about your surroundings. For instance- it can be writing, painting, gardening, photography, dancing, singing, decorating, coding, etc.

Image Source: Forbes article

This diagram sums the whole concept of Ikigai. What you love doing is your Ikigai. If your job is your Ikigai, you will not think of it as work. You will love doing it. That’s the most important thing. Some just don’t enjoy their jobs because they have no interest in it or they are just not good at it. That is why the whole problem of stress which consumes our body and mind from inside. As per the American Institute of Stress, most health problems are caused by stress.

I liked the way the authors of this book explained how stress functions. Modern humans are alert most of the time, stuck in the epidemic of multi-tasking, sitting in front of their laptop, having junk food, and waiting for notifications from their mobile phones 24 hours a day. The human brain equates the ping of a cell phone or an email notification with threat of a predator which has huge health implications on the body leading to adrenal fatigue, cardiovascular diseases, insomnia, anxiety, and high blood pressure.

Though a little stress is good for you, you need to be mindful of reducing stress by having a stoic attitude. A high degree of emotional awareness and ultimately finding meaning of your life and going with the flow is required to reduce the stress level. When we achieve flow in our work, we have full concentration without any distractions.

The flow is a state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience itself is so enjoyable that people will do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.

Csikszentmihalyi (Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience)

The book also provides some useful suggestions to achieve the state of flow:

  • No screen time for the first hour after waking up and the last hour before going to bed
  • Switch off the phone before you achieve flow
  • Do technological fasting for one day of the week
  • Check and respond to your email once or twice per day
  • Start your work with something you enjoy
  • Find a less distracting place to work
  • Divide your work into small activities

These days, we all are doing mundane tasks of cleaning, washing utensils, doing the laundry, etc, and the question is how to make these mundane tasks enjoyable. Turning routine tasks into moments of flow is key to our happiness. This is called the micro-flow. Even Bill Gates enjoys washing his dishes every night as it helps him relax and clear his mind. I don’t how others do it but I generally play some nice songs while cleaning my house.

This book is for those who want to find their Ikigai and also want to know the secret of a long and happy life. Just to provide an easy list for everyone, it provides the ten rules of Ikigai:

  1. Whatever you do, don’t retire
  2. Take it slow and you will go far
  3. Don’t fill your stomach. Fill your belly to 80%
  4. Surround yourself with good friends and stay away from toxic people
  5. Connect with communities
  6. Walk a lot and do Yoga
  7. Reconnect with nature
  8. Do mental work out
  9. Be grateful for things you have
  10. Live in the moment (Carpe Diem)
  11. Have a purpose(Ikigai) in life

“Simple Living and High Thinking” has always been the motto of our country’s ancient traditions and also reiterated by inspiring personalities like Swami Vivekanand, Gautam Budhha, Mahatma Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln and Mother Teresa. So now when the whole world is slowing down during this quarantine period, find your Ikigai and make your life more meaningful and happy.

5 thoughts on “This quarantine period, find your Ikigai

  1. I love the Japanese take of life. Yes it’s true that finding purpose – IKIGAI, is what made the the great souls great. Today when we are cooped up in our homes it makes a sense to stop, ponder n find our IKIGAI.
    Thank you for summing up the book in brief.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ikigai, Hakunamatata etc are just simple words with deep meaning. Sometimes one knows/reads many such things, yet it is not easy to adapt them. A much needed practice especially in our current lifestyle. Good write up.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A very beautiful comment received by my friend Minaxi via Whatsapp:

    Quarantine is teaching us, what we all should have learned along back.
    Only staying active will make us want to live a hundred years, is absolute in itself. People are now considering other options in life, like doing regular chores, connecting to those whom they have lost touch, had grudges, or anonymity from years seems altogether with a different era.
    Finding your ikigai is not very tiresome or difficult, all you need is a simple exercise, and think about the things you love the most, which can be anything close to your heart, for me, it is ‘Reading, Writing and Assimilating random thoughts along with putting pictures on them. It makes me forget time, place or anything that I am doing, the flow of reading often transports me into an imaginary and universal space, which has no ends, Oblivious. I have been practicing this philosophy of living in the moment from last many years, almost since my mid 20’s (Carpe Diem) which of course has taught me one thing, for sure, ‘ what we have is the moment and this very second, everything else is secondary and infinite’. I love listening to people, their perspective, their problems, and confusion, and try to help them psychologically and through counseling, (I am still learning, though). Giving someone an ear is the most gratifying work I really enjoy. I try to spend as much time thinking about the processes rather than the destination.
    This book has so many wonderful things to look at, no life is meaningless and no act is small that it cannot bring the change.
    In these times, try and find your purpose for the people you are living along or will be coming across in lives. Try and understand everything and everyone because it is the most beautiful gift of the human mind that we can practice every day with or without lockdown. Be the reason for someone’s smile and happiness. My passion is to make the lives of people in my life and in theirs a garden of memories, no matter what the situation is going on or one is been through. Keep doing your job, but keep loving from your heart.
    IKiGAi, is something we have been practicing since ancient times, now it is the need of an hour to preach and show the everyone that ‘Old is always Gold’.


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