The Japanese philosophy of Ikigai became established in the 8th century on the island territory of Okinawa. When translated, iki means ‘life’ and gai represents ‘hopeful expectation’. Ikigai promotes ‘the individual’s raison d’etre’ or ‘reason to be throughout a long and meaningful life’.
Guided by a simple framework, it encourages each one of us to seek an ideal balance of life’s needs in relation to our personalities. A successfully fulfilling career is not necessarily one that only exists at a high-flying executive level but one that harmonises with the unique qualities of your inner-self. Achieving this balanced contentment is the surest route to a long, worthwhile and healthy life.
Here are 8 tips to help you achieve fulfilment using the Ikigai framework:
1. Discover your Unique Ikigai
On a sheet of paper, draw four circles that overlap in the centre. Each section represents the motives that directly affect your life: what you excel at, what you adore, how you can earn and if your skill is of use to anyone.
The ultimate aim is to adapt your career to ensure your personal fulfilment. When compiling your chart, remember the phrase ‘to your own self be true’. Only by being honest will you find your Ikigai and real purpose in your life and career.
For instance, if your Ikigai chart reveals a love of plants but in reality, you’re stifled by an office environment, a career in horticulture might be of greater benefit to your personal well-being.
Planning for the future is part of building a life that realises ambitions and ensures financial security. However, Ikigai is a reminder that a personal journey through life should also value the present. Time can never be recaptured so pause occasionally to appreciate the unique opportunities of each day. Enrich the quality of today by spontaneously visiting an exhibition, trying a new hobby or relaxing with a favourite book.
3. Harness Energy from Nature
Japanese culture places a great value on the restorative forces of nature. Appreciating an inspiring landscape of majestic forests, hills or lakes restores balance to a stressful life. Its powerful antiquity is reassuring and calming. Admiring the intricate beauty of flowers or listening to birds singing, reminds you of the harmony to be found in nature. The force of the natural world helps put your own existence into perspective renewing your energy and purpose.
4. Learn to Remain Active
Aim to extend the usefulness of your physical life by establishing a routine of regular exercise. As you get older, try adopting gentler activities such as walking, yoga or tai chi. Keeping your muscles and joints supple and flexible is important in maintaining mobility when pursuing a career in your later years.
5. Eat for Health
To achieve a life of worthwhile longevity with the assistance of Ikigai, you need to keep your body balanced with natural, healthy food. There isn’t a diet to follow, simply an awareness of consuming balanced amounts of essential vitamins and minerals through fresh ingredients. It is a Japanese tradition to practise hara hachi bu, a regime where meals leave you feeling around 20% hungry. It accelerates your digestive metabolism which then quickly raises your energy levels.
6. Seek Inspirational Companionship
Balance the energy to be gained during bouts of solitary contemplation with the warmth of good company. Enjoy stimulating conversation to keep your mind sharp. Relaxation and laughter amongst friends are essential for your well-being. However, Ikigai isn’t all about yourself. Maintain an ideal balance by sparing time for relatives and friends who might be in more need of companionship than you are.
7. Avoid a Worthless Retirement
The philosophy of Ikigai is primarily to achieve purpose, energy and fulfilment throughout a long, contented life. The Japanese belief is that total retirement from a useful working life is detrimental to physical and emotional fulfilment. It’s important that every day should still have a worthwhile purpose and motivation, factors that are especially beneficial in old age. When the time is right, followers of Ikigai continue useful employment by simply exchanging high-flying careers for roles that are less demanding.
8. Be Adaptable
Using the philosophy of Ikigai, allows you to regularly reassess whether your career is still suited to the ever-changing circumstances of your life. By honestly reflecting on what you enjoy and accomplish well, then seeking to combine this knowledge with earning a financial reward is a method of retaining motivation and following a useful existence throughout your life.
Ikigai helps you understand how you can achieve and benefit from a fulfilling career that is uniquely tailored to your individual personality.
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You just invested in yourself and in your business. You are taking massive action but the results are just not clicking yet. While everyone is making 10X, 20X, and even 100X ROI on their initial investment, you have made $0 return. Failure is starting to overcast your bright shining positive attitude and you are feeling the pain and shame of it. (more…)
3 Simple Hacks That Can Recharge Your Willpower and Help You Perform Better at Work
How many times did you wake up feeling like you could conquer the world? You set ambitious goals for the day, you put on your best attire and walked out the door with a big smile on your face but eventually, life took over. Traffic, emails, work, family, and everything else you have around slowly but steadily started to drain your energy and made you feel exhausted.
You run out of battery, and the only solution that seemed viable was to rely on more caffeine. When that stopped working, all the temptations around you started to look much more appealing, and that sense of drive and commitment you had before slowly faded away. This is you running out of willpower.
Willpower: what is it? Why is it limited?
The American Psychology Association describes willpower as “the ability to resist short-term temptations in order to meet long-term goals.” In the book “The Willpower Instinct”, Dr. Kelly McGonigal, explains how every person’s willpower is limited, and slowly depletes throughout the day. The more “willpower challenges” you face, the quicker your reserve drains. Dr. McGonigal divided the different types of willpower challenges you might encounter in three categories:
- I will: We face this type of challenge whenever we should do something, but we simply don’t feel like getting it done right now.
- I won’t: We face this challenge when we try to resist temptation, or we try to keep cool in stressful situations.
- I want: This is a particular type of challenge where we keep track of our long term goals, dreams, and desires. In this instance, we feel like we should take action right now to come one step closer to the goal.
It’s easy to recognize it when you face a willpower challenge because you literally “feel it in your body.” Imagine being really hungry and walking in front of a bakery. The sight and the smell of pastries quickly triggers an “I won’t” type of challenge, and it takes a severe amount of effort and energy to walk away.
Every time you manage to win one of those challenges, a little bit of your willpower reserve gets used. The more challenges you face daily, the harder it will be to stay true to your goals.
Can you train or recharge your willpower?
A growing body of research suggests that willpower should be considered a muscle. To strengthen it, you should exercise it regularly, but you should not overwork it. Therefore, we shouldn’t try to “be good” at all times. Instead, we should learn how to relax and recharge our willpower.
The general advice on how to improve willpower involves sleep, proper nutrition, and regular exercise. This broad and general recommendation is often not downright applicable by most, because it consists of changing various daily habits. Luckily, three very effective hacks have been discovered, that have an immediate effect on our willpower and take just a few minutes to apply.
Here are the 3 ways to refill your willpower reserves:
1. Focused breathing
Breathing, when done correctly, can stimulate the release of calming hormones while reducing the release of stress hormones like cortisol and catecholamines. To make this effective, you should deeply and slowly inhale through the nose for at least five seconds. Fill your belly with air first, then your chest, and when there’s no more space for air, still try to do tiny inhalations through the nose.
You should feel a pulling sensation around your neck and trapezius muscles. Once your lungs are full, try to hold the breath for five seconds, then slowly exhale through the mouth for at least five seconds. If you repeat this process ten to twenty times, you should feel dramatically more relaxed. Use this method several times a day, especially when you’re experiencing high levels of stress or anxiety.
2. Reward yourself when you accomplish a micro goal
According to a recent study, frequent instant rewards can boost motivation, and therefore, willpower. Creating your own reward system can help you to accomplish your to-do list, and also resist temptations. Since every individual has different tastes, you should come up with creative ideas about the small and frequent rewards you will give yourself upon winning any willpower challenge.
You can see this hack in practice in Apps like the popular Duolinguo, where after completing each lesson you get presented with a chance to open a treasure chest. This rewarding system seems to keep the users much more likely to keep learning new lessons.
Your body has an autonomic response to cold water. Getting into a cold shower is a difficult (but minor) willpower challenge on its own. As I previously mentioned, winning a willpower challenge strengthens your willpower muscle. Having a morning cold shower, on top of having multiple health benefits, will set you up for a positive winning streak of further challenges.
High performance is the sum of many small habits. Successful people don’t have an unlimited reserve of willpower, but they do have a set of daily rituals that made them succeed. These three hacks are some of the most effective techniques to develop willpower, but some of them may not fit every individual. You should try to find the perfect mix of daily practices that best fits your lifestyle and likes, so that you can strengthen your willpower muscle and perform better at work.
3 Inspiring Lessons We Can Learn From Jim Carrey About the Law of Attraction
You’ve more than likely heard of Jim Carrey before. Over the years, he has starred in many popular films including The Truman Show, The Mask, and Bruce Almighty (just to name a few.)
But his personality goes a lot deeper than just his comedic persona and movie star charisma. In fact, Jim Carrey is probably one of the most philosophical individuals on the planet!
Although he isn’t in the spotlight as much anymore, throughout the years, he has credited his success and fortunes by applying the Law of attraction into his life. What’s even more inspiring is that Jim Carrey, like you and I, came from humble beginnings. No silver spoon or easy ticket. In fact, his family was very poor throughout his childhood. So what made him so successful in attracting such an extravagant and self-fulfilling life?
Here are 3 lessons you can learn from Jim Carrey when it comes to manifesting your dreams into a reality:
1. You Have To Take Action
“You can’t just visualize then go eat a sandwich”, Jim Carrey says. It goes without saying that the law of attraction does require action. You cannot simply rely on visualizing and expect to see results, especially when it comes to manifesting desires that other people would like to achieve also. E.g. Careers, scholarships, competitions, anything that involves another individual.
Visualization and positive thinking are crucial when it comes to using the law of attraction, but you have to meet the universe halfway with the steps you take as well. We are physical beings that require physical steps to get physical results. The real key is to make daily plans/goals in order to get you closer towards achieving your desires. So after that sandwich, make sure start taking action toward your dreams!
This could be working on your hobbies or passion, applying for that dream job or studying to get better grades. As long as you are moving toward your goals then there’s no reason why it can’t happen. So get out there and kick some butt.
2. Double Down On What You Love
“My father could have been a great comedian but he didn’t believe that that was possible for him, and so he made a conservative choice. Instead, he got a safe job as an accountant and when I was 12 years old he was let go from that safe job, and our family had to do whatever we could to survive. I learned many great lessons from my father. Not the least of which was that: You can fail at what you don’t want. So you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.”
If this story of Jim Carrey’s father doesn’t pull on your heartstrings and inspire you at the same time, nothing else will! This is such an undeniable life lesson that everyone needs to learn. A lesson to take risks, push comfort zones and go all-in on what you love doing. So if your dreams, hobbies or goals seem far fetched to the majority, then you are already beating the other 99%.
Be that 1% that’s willing to dream big and rise above the norm. Unfortunately, in today’s society, our ancestral instincts still rule our everyday life. Fear is one of them and controls the majority of our population. It’s scary to push comfort zones and try something new, the thought of failure is often paralyzing to many. But my question to you is, will you look back one day and regret the chances you didn’t take?
3. Keep Your Eye On The Prize
“As far as I can tell, it’s just about letting the universe know what you want and working toward it, while letting go of how it comes to pass.” Holding onto every little detail when it comes to manifesting, can conjure up more harm than good. The reason is that the universe will deliver in ways you might not expect.
If you are too busy wondering when your desires will manifest, comparing yourself to others, or ignoring every sign that doesn’t look like your detailed plan you’ve written down, then you may be missing out on opportunities that are right in front of you! Your visualizations don’t have to be perfect, in fact, it’s better to just let go altogether and focus on the result itself rather than dwelling on every little detail. This doesn’t mean to simply forget about what you want but instead having the confidence it will happen in time.
An example of this is when Jim Carrey wrote himself a check for 30 million dollars. The only detail he knew was that he would earn it through his acting career, and he did indeed achieve this goal! So make sure to tell the universe what you want, but try not to hold onto every little detail!
Jim Carrey is just another person like you and me, with his own personal ups and downs in his road to success. He is someone to look up to when applying the law of attraction in your life too. It doesn’t matter if your goals or desires are different because the core foundation will always stay the same. You can and will do this if you think, feel and act as if it will happen!
Meditation for Beginners: How It Works and Where to Start
Meditation was first developed in India many years ago (around 5000-3500 BCE). It took quite some time to become popular in the western world, but today, it is celebrated as a therapeutic tool to ease stress, anxiety, depression, and addictions. In the past years, it has also become recognized as helping to improve mental performance, and consequently became a multi-billion dollar business. If you’ve never tried it, you may be wondering how something so simple as sitting with your eyes closed could deliver such incredible benefits.
How meditation works
Meditation is about training in awareness and getting a healthy sense of perspective over one’s thoughts. Many think that meditating is about trying to achieve a zen state of mind, but that’s not the point. Observing one’s thoughts, and then letting go of them so that eventually you may start to better understand them, is the real goal of each meditation practice.
There are different techniques to go through this mental process. Some focus on the breath and bodily sensation, others make you visualize an object, and others help you to channel your thoughts towards acts of love and kindness.
A typical meditation session involves you sitting on a chair or cross-legged on the floor with your eyes closed. Once you assume a comfortable position and focus on your breath, you should start noticing your thoughts. At this point, according to what type of technique you’re using, you will try to let those thoughts go away by focusing on something else (this could be your breath or a mental image you created).
With time and practice, you may be able to reach a state of mind where very few thoughts (or none) are present. Despite the simplicity of this process, meditating for more than ten minutes is extremely tough for most. Many people that try meditation get discouraged by the fact that “they can’t stop thinking.” In fact, it has been proven that people spend most of their days being anything but mindful and peaceful.
In a 2010 study, Harvard researchers asked more than 2000 adults about their thoughts and actions at random moments throughout their day via an iPhone app. People’s minds wandered 47% of the time, and mind wandering often triggered unhappiness, the scientists reported.
They also observed that spending time observing our thoughts without getting stuck on them, may help to better understand oneself, and possibly being able to reduce the number of negative thoughts one experiences.
“The mind is definitely something that can be transformed, and meditation is a means to transform it.” – Dalai Lama
What science says about meditation
People have practiced meditation for thousands of years, but scientists have studied its effects for only a dozen. In the past few years, many studies have been published about the neurological benefits of meditation, proving it to improve brain function in many different ways.
Meditation’s benefits range from preserving the aging brain, to improving happiness by reducing the activity of the brain’s “me center” (monkey mind). A more recent study has even proven that meditation is as powerful as antidepressants in treating depression, anxiety, and pain. Many more studies are being conducted every day on meditation, and we can expect to gain a lot more insight in the near future.
Can anyone meditate?
Millions of people are practicing mindfulness meditation every day with great results, but there are also as many people that have tried meditating and didn’t like it or didn’t manage to be consistent with their practice. The most important part of developing a meditation practice is consistency. You don’t have to meditate every single day, but the benefits are tied to regular, consistent practice.
Some studies claim that some benefits of meditation such as improved mood, decreased stress and decreased blood pressure, can be felt after a single session. Some other benefits like increased focus and decreased anxiety may be experienced after a few weeks and others take longer to develop.
Some people claim that as little as five minutes of meditation per day can make miracles, but research shows that a regular practice associated with benefits involves 10-20 minutes of meditation at least three times per week.
“Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more.” – Mother Teresa
What’s the best way to begin a meditation practice?
A good place to start for aspiring mediators is Headspace. Andy Puddicombe, a former English student in sport science, dropped his studies to travel to Asia and trained as a Buddhist monk. He created Headspace with the goal of helping millions of people to live a more mindful life. Over 30 million people have downloaded and use headspace. This is due to his simplicity and its beautiful design and animations.
Do you meditate? If so, what’s your favorite aspect of it? Share your thoughts below!
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