Find Your Ikigai

Earlier this year, my co-workers and I flew out to Los Angeles to attend a 4-day conference addressing ways to support fathers and families. During our time on the West Coast, we participated in an Advanced Fatherhood Practitioners course for those of us working with fathers across the country.

The course, by far, exceeded my expectations. In this session, we discussed engaging fathers and families in ways that are culturally sensitive. We discussed incorporating mindfulness into individual sessions with fathers. The course teachers provide a good amount of information into a few days, which spilled over into several months of post-class work to fulfill the required needs for the accreditation.

One concept that stood out to me, from the class, is the idea of ikigai. It’s a Japanese word that, literally, means “value of being alive” according to my research. In the class, we learned it as “that thing for which you wake up”. The assignment given to us required reflecting on this very concept.

I had to ask myself “what gets me out of the bed every morning?” It’s that thing that brings me joy or produces life in me. I don’t dread getting it done. It’s that thing that I can get lost in for hours at a a time. Hopefully, you’re getting the idea of what the word means.

It’s not something to put off, continuously, It’s not something that you easily pass over in life.. The more you put it off, the more you fill unfulfilled in your life. It’s there calling your name.

Some times, silently! Other times, loud enough to make you feel the pressure to get up and do something about it.

When you start or discover it, you won’t stop until it’s complete.

What is that thing for you?

For me, it’s what I’m doing at this very moment. It comes naturally. I don’t have to stress about making it happen. I sit down and press keys on the laptop to complete an article or talk into a microphone to finish a podcast. Then, I’m done. If my ikigai wasn’t happening in the form of writing or speaking, it’s visible in how I express life. At the end of the day, the thing that I wake up for is making a positive impact in the lives of those entrusted to me.

It’s my wife, my children, my family, and countless others experiencing a man, who chooses to operate from a place of love. Without expressing and receiving love, it’s hard to find value in life. During this pandemic, people are struggling with their purpose in life. If that’s you, trust that it’s waiting for unearthing. If you haven’t quite found your ikigai, take time to get alone for a moment of silence.

In your silence, reflect on your life. What are your passions, skills, and interests? I promise you that if you’re still and quiet enough, you’ll find the switch. Once you do, my prayers is that you never turn it off!

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