While visiting temples on my biking trip in Japan, I learned about the Japanese concept of “ikigai.” A loose translation is “your reason for being.” I like to think of it as the reason you get out of bed in the morning, your passion and purpose in life.
The Japanese believe that everyone has an ikigai, although not everyone discovers hers. I’ve mentored some nurses who tell me they knew their ikigai when they were just children, while others tell me they still haven’t discovered it. For some, finding your ikigai can require a deep search of your inner self – a journey of sorts. For others, finding your ikigai comes naturally. For example, my idea of play as a little girl was teaching an imaginary class after coming in from playing football with my brother, Vince. Not only did I need to recover from the battering I received, teaching was my true passion. It’s no accident that my mission today “Revolutionizing nursing careers, one RN at a time” includes teaching.
Knowing your ikigai also has health benefits. Studies have shown that people who know their ikigai are less susceptible to cardiac disease and live longer than those who do not know their purpose.
When you ask yourself “What’s my ikigai?” – don’t give the easy answer “I’m an ICU nurse,” or “I’m Italian,” or “I’m a mother of two,” or “I’m the CEO of a legal nurse consulting company.” Instead think of what gets you out of bed and whether your reaction when you do is “Woo-Hoo!” or “Ho-hum.”
Consider the words of two of the greatest thinkers of their generation (at least as captured by A.A. Milne): “When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?” “What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?” “I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet. Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It’s the same thing,” he said.
Today, take the time to ask yourself why you get out of bed. The answer may surprise you and I hope that much as I love Pooh, it’s something you personally find more exciting and nurturing than breakfast.
Success Is Inside!
P.S. Comment and share your ikigai and how you discovered it.