Human beings yearn for happiness amidst growth, success health, wealth and beautiful relationships as well as challenges of life. Increasingly survival and livelihood issues have a tendency to engulf our lives as the hustle and bustle to eke a living take over our lives. At the end of each day, we are all worn out and upon resting for the night, we wake up at the wee hours of dawn with our in-trays full of a million things to do. It is as if we are no longer human beings but human doings overwhelmed by tasks upon tasks that we must complete even when they don’t spark joy in our hearts.
But is this how our creator intended us to live? I don’t think so. Whereas we are out of Eden and hence must work to earn a livelihood, I am deeply persuaded that the whole human experience should also nature our mental well-being and ignite joy in our hearts. I must say that this remains an everyday quest and comes with finding one’s purpose and living deliberately.
Today, I am confident that you harbor many dreams and aspirations for the future mixed with doubts and fears. It is Mark Twain who said that the two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why. But how does one find his or her purpose or reason for being? For a long time, I took purpose to mean my career and the social roles that I have. Then I encountered the teachings of the late great teacher Myles Munroe that one must consult his/her maker to find out his or her purpose. According to him, only God, who is our creator or manufacturer, knows why He created us and what He put in us as potential to enable us unleash our potential and live that purpose. This calls for a deeper connection and alignment with God. It is a lifetime quest and a personal odyssey.
Most recently I can across some Japanese wisdom worth-sharing. Ikigai is a Japanese concept that means your ‘reason for being.’ ‘Iki’ in Japanese means ‘life,’ and ‘gai’ describes value or worth. The concept is said to have evolved from health and wellness principles of traditional Japanese medicine. This medical tradition portends that physical well-being is highly affected by one’s mental–emotional health and sense of purpose in life. Your ikigai is your life purpose or your bliss that comes from a perfect balance of your skills, knowledge, mission, passion and what you love, what you are good at, what the world needs and what you can be paid for.
Whereas what you shall do or be in life is a factor of so many things, I challenge you to find your Ikigai. Take time to explore these four questions and write down the answers. Under what you love – write down your passions, things that spark joy in your life or those that make you happy. Under what you are good at, include your talents and your capabilities. On what the world needs, ask yourself what connects most explicitly with other people and doing good for them, beyond your own personal needs. Other people here may mean the small community in your environment or humanity in totality and the needs that are most expressed by people around you. It could be anything from effects of climate changes, water, sanitation, healthcare, security, food e.t.c. What you can be paid for is all about what you have or can do that the world is willing to buy. The intricate relationship between these domains is your passion, your mission, your vocation and your profession and right at the centre of it all is your Ikigai.
Before continue going with the flow of life or have the currents push you from one paradigm to another, taking a journey of personal discovery of who you really are and your purpose might be worth your while.
How not to lose it and how to have more of it
When all is said and done, we all want to live in a state of inner harmony and calm. Unfortunately, the hustle and bustle of life, daily schedules, challenges, and basically the running around can eat into our peace as they escalate anxiety, worry, and stress.
The good thing is that every human being has an instrument that measures their state of harmony. Maybe it is in the joy, high spirits, gratitude, and energy that we feel when we are in a place of inner peace. However, like a jar cracking open, peace eludes us when we get angry, hurt others or become fussy over things that we can resolve. Think about what happens to you as a parent when you quarrel with a child over something as minor as a disorganized room or an argument with a spouse overcoming home late. The aftermath like a sword pierces your heart long after the incident. Your mind continues to ruminate over the situation for a long time and you keep feeling the same hurt all over again until you seek to resolve the issue through say apologizing.
I am not insinuating that it is possible to go through life without experiencing moments of distress or pain. On the contrary. As the world around you keep unfolding and life continues to happen, you will constantly encounter moments of anger, stress, pain, and immense tension. How you respond to these moments is really the issue. Like a canoe in raging waters, one must make it a habit to keep peddling the oars as opposed to getting distressed at the raging water. Allowing yourself to be at peace in spite of your situation is really the human quest to finding peace.
Inner distress like a whirlwind starts small. Once you become upset, you start going through a set of motions and emotions. You may start pacing, your heart starts racing, your breath shortens and things could literally run out of control. If you don’t catch yourself and nib these feelings at the bud, there is a likelihood that will lose yourself to your reactions and end up saying or doing things that you may end up regretting.
A more amicable approach to maintaining a state of inner peace includes taking a breath and finding a moment to observe the situation almost like a third party and then focusing on the positive side of the story or what you are grateful for. Regardless of what is not going right, maintaining a state of inner calm entails being optimistic in your ability to resolve the situation and becoming more dynamic to accept changes as they come even when they seem to be accompanied by discomfort.
I wish it were possible to don our minds and hearts with a protective helmet against adversity and life pains. The challenge here is to appreciate that adversity will come sometimes when we least expect and the honors is not to be angry or wish the pain away but to accept that which we must accept, resolve what can be resolved, and with a positive spirit allow life to happen as it should.
Miriam M. Chege
Founder and Lead, Coach, Big Leap International
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