Ikigai: One Path Toward an Integrated Life

Since I started writing Blooms to Blossoms, I have unknowingly been on the Ikigai path. My passion, mission, vocation, and profession resulted in the desire to share ideas about integrating wellness, lifelong learning, and personal development through writing my blog.  August 7 Visual Blossoms post identified internal and external aspects of life.  Each day, based on our life goals and vision while keeping in mind our commitment to others, we prioritize how these pieces fit together.  Last month I happened across Tanmay Vora’s book review sketchnote of Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life.  I mentioned in my August 14 Visual Blossom that his summary statement stimulated my interest in how I could apply the principles of Ikigai to the purpose of Blooms to Blossoms.  

Ikigai is the intersection/convergence of four core elements. Charlton (2018) explains the core elements as follows.

**What you love (your passion) — what inspires you?
**What the world needs (your mission) — what makes you feel useful?
**What you are good at (your vocation) — what are you drawn to?
**What you can get paid for (your profession) — what activities do your find most productive?  
NOTE:  Remember that “paid” can mean outcomes/rewards beyond money.

Blooms to Blossoms strives to contribute to the enrichment of young adults and beyond by demonstrating that integrating life and learning makes a difference.  How can you use your knowledge, skills, attitudes, values, and beliefs to envision and build your future?

Zippo et al. (2010) assert that wellness encompasses a balance of the multi- dimensional journey that each of us takes at one time or another. Each of our journeys is unique and different. We all strive to succeed as individuals who create our own paths in life. Yasuka (2019) supports my idea that wellness and ikigai are on the same path toward lifelong learning and personal development.  He states, “every person is said to have their own ikigai. An ikigai is personal and specific to each individual’s life, beliefs, and values. It should reflect one’s inner self” (para.2).

Wellness components related to Ikigai core elements

Ikigai is the union point of four fundamental components of life: passion, vocation, profession and mission. In other words, where; what you love meets what you are good at, meets what you can be valued and paid for meets that which the world needs. Ikigai is only complete if the goal implies service to the community. We feel more satisfied giving gifts than receiving. The next step, once you’ve identified these components, would be to start following your compass (Grant, 2019, para.9).

Linkage of wellness, lifelong learning, personal development to Ikigai
Ikigai diagram modified | Alex Tanchoco

Finding your ikigai…start by answering the questions. Kolmodin (2018) shares a tool to facilitate personal growth to find happiness and meaning to life. Click on the link below to download the template.

Smell the Roses: In-Between

On October 28, 2019 I published a blog titled, Be Open: Inspiration Comes from Everywhere.  In my opening I wrote:

Many people act as though the future is something that happens to them rather than something that you can create every day. Have you thought about what inspires you? It is interesting to consider that inspiration comes from everywhere if you are open to the possibilities.

This week my blog and a refreshed perspective on life resulted from a comment on ESPN, a song, a podcast, and a book.  

A Comment on ESPN:

While watching SportsCenter on ESPN this week the announcers referred to a quote attributed to Lou Holtz.  “It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it”.  Their point about the quote is that Holtz’s intent may have been about attitude.  As I thought about this quote and researched various interpretations of it, I found that it applies to life.  Flom (n.d.) states:

We all carry loads, and we all carry them in different ways.. the key is to carry your load the right way. That means with your head up, back straight. Bend at the knees so the load is distributed better and doesn’t wreck one part of you. If it’s too heavy to carry alone, ask for help. Keep moving forward so that momentum is on your side. Where you were when you picked up the load doesn’t matter. Where you’re headed with it does.

A Song:

While doing errands this week I was listening to my favorite streaming station (Lee Greenwood Gospel).  I like to songs and there is good variety.  The 1974 song ‘Stop and Smell the Roses’ by Mac Davis came on…I sat in the car and listened to it a couple times.  This song connected to Holtz quote, Flom’s interpretation, and to my Visual Blossoms post Piecing Together Life… “Life is a journey, and there are bumps in the road.”   It is important to find a way to carry your load and count your blessings. Some of the Mac Davis lyrics are:

Hey Mister
Where you going in such a hurry
Don’t you think it’s time you realized
There’s a whole lot more to life than work and worry
The sweetest things in life are free
And they’re right before your eyes

A Podcast:

When I bike, I usually listen to audiobooks (leisure reading) or podcasts (for blog ideas).  I chose a Psychology at Work podcast by Lankow and Johansson. They “envision a world of work where people realize their significance and purpose.”  They “explore how to make positive meaning of our relationships and contributions (and what can get in the way), which leads to being more engaged, present, and effective.”  Based on the ESPN comment and the song, I chose the (2019) podcast “Eustress, Distress, We all Stress.”  They discuss and reiterate ideas that stress is not always a bad thing. 

Wack (2020) defines eustress as a term for positive stress that can have a beneficial impact on your life. “Eu” is a prefix meaning good or well, also used in words like “euphoria” and “eulogy.” Eustress can refer to challenges in work and life that put pressure on us to grow and improve. 

Coor (n.d.) defines distress as typically accompanied by feelings of overwhelm and anxiety, which are perceived as negative and unwanted.

The key is to be mindful and control what you can…do not let your goals become a form of distress.  In other words, carry your load the right way and take time to smell the roses.

A Book:

The quote, the song, and the podcast led me to search for books related to finding opportunities for growth.  I found an interesting choice written by Jeff Goins titled, The In-Between: Embracing the Tension Between Now and the Next Big Thing.  The book explores searching for a breakthrough, loving the journey, and life worth the wait. “The In-Between is a call to accept the importance that waiting plays in our lives by helping you find personal meaning in the times that make the least sense and hone the underestimated art of living in the moment.”

The expression “stop and smell the roses” is not simply about flowers, but rather about how to live your life with a deeper appreciation of the world around us. It reminds us to slow down and notice the little things that make life worthwhile. Despite a busy life, it is important to know how to be present in the moment; otherwise those moments will pass you by. Herst (2019)

My New Anthem for Life:

Pause, reflect, appreciate, move forward 

“Don’t hurry. Don’t worry.
You’re only here for a short visit. 
So don’t forget to stop and smell the roses.”
Walter Hagen

My Garden: Well-Being & Teamwork

My recent Visual Blossoms post, “How Does My Garden Grow? With A Lot of Help!“, I shared that my gardening hobby is supported by the help from others.  Teamwork makes the dream work!!  Whether you garden alone, with others, or with the help of others it can be a rewarding hobby with positive effects on your overall wellbeing.

Studies show that gardening can positively influence physical and mental well-being.  Soga, Gaston, & Yamaura (2016) performed a meta-analysis (twenty-two cases studies published after 2001) of the effects of gardening on health and well-being.   “Most studies came from the United States, followed by Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Studies reported a wide range of health outcomes, such as reductions in depression, anxiety, and body mass index, as well as increases in life satisfaction, quality of life, and sense of community. Meta-analytic estimates showed a significant positive effect of gardening on the health outcomes” (p.92).

The benefits of gardening extend well beyond the physical aspect of digging in the dirt. No matter how small or large your garden is or if your garden is indoor or outdoor, your well-being benefits. With each garden there is a hope for beauty and success.  Whatever the outcome may be, there are many advantages to the process.  I find creating a beautiful garden means more than pretty flowers. Gardening is an opportunity to create a better life. Gardening encompasses Blooms to Blossoms purpose…integrating wellness, lifelong learning and personal development. The chart below depicts how gardening affects my life.

I am forever grateful for the help I have to make my vision come to life and forever hopeful for a good outcome.

Look back and be grateful,
Look ahead and be hopeful,
Look around and be helpful.