Ikigai-The secret to success, happiness, and long-living in Japan

Do you know that  Japan is a favorite country for many people across the world?

The city of Tokyo in Japan is home to about 13.8 million people, but yet you can have the luxury of walking in leafy boulevards without much crowd around you to disturb. It is a peaceful and clean city.

Obadiah Mailafia shared that once he was invited for a sumptuous dinner at the home of a senior diplomat in Tokyo. He shared that their son is a graduate of the London School of Economics and Political Science but has no interest in living abroad! There is a reason behind this. It is because Japan is the only country in the world that gives them comfort, security, and good life, being the most advanced technological nation globally.

They are indeed so particular and disciplined that if the train runs even a few minutes late, it is splashed in the news! Moreover, their food choices are very healthy as they mostly eat fish, lentils, and fruits. You enjoy a good diet and health when you stay in Japan.

After the USA and China come to Japan with 125 million people and a gross per capita income of $5.4 trillion, and per capita income of $43,000; despite having difficulties like limited natural resources and frequent earthquakes and tsunamis, they offer a lifestyle to their people that most of us can only dream of.

A feudal Samurai warrior Shogunate ruled Japan for centuries. It was a close society then. However, with the entry of the Meiji Restoration of 1868, Japan progressed in industrialization and national transformation. Interestingly, though the Japanese trod on the path to industrialization, they restored their beliefs and culture without getting influenced by western culture. As a result, Japan soon became a rich country. The leading religion in Japan is Buddhism, and they also believe in the goddess Amaterasu and the Shinto religion.

World War 2 devastated Japan by way of the nuclear bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 by the Americans on the orders of President Harry Truman. This caused a whopping 195000 deaths, thousands were wounded, and the next generation of children was even born with deformities. Yet, despite this, Japan has shown progression and super progress.

You should know that Japan has outlawed war in their constitution, owing to the decision and efforts of General MacArthur, who became the country’s constitutional lawgiver. It is said that the Japanese do not keep any bitterness also towards their enemies.

You will be happy to know that Japan has an average life expectancy of 84.79 years, one of the highest in the world. If you visit the island of Okinawa, you will find many 100-year olds moving about. They also have a Human Development Index of 0.919, making Japan a country where the standard of living is highest compared to other industrial nations.

Japanese people have strong work ethics. As you know, China as a country is strong, but Tokyo has the edge over Beijing concerning the quality of its products produced. It is a matter that until MIT professor Edward Demming came, Japan used to create low-quality products. He brought in the concept of Total Quality Management. This concept matched with Japan’s traditional philosophy of Kaizen, which means continuous improvement.

Japan is a rapidly aging society with an average age is 48.4, compared to Nigeria’s 18.1 years. Soon, Japan will be faced with labor shortages and pension issues due to the existing demographics.

Well, Japan has some other social issues also to resolve.

  • The suicide rate is the highest in Japan, at about 14.9 percent per 100,000 people.
  • Japan in the 1990s faced a stock market bubble that is popularly known as “the lost decade.” They had to face deflation, slow growth, and rising national debt, currently at 13.6 trillion-a staggering 257 percent of GDP.

Interestingly, after all, this also Japan witnesses as a prosperous democracy, a cohesive and stable nation with a highly productive and innovative economy.

The reason behind Japan flourishing and doing well, although the challenges, is their philosophy known as “Ikigai,” meaning a “reason for being.” It refers to having a direction and life purpose. The philosophy comprises of four fundamental components of life: passion, vocation, profession, and mission.

Okinawa Island, which was the epicenter of the war between the United States and Japan, is where the philosophy of Ikagai was born. After losing more than 200,000 people, they evolved a philosophy that gave them hope for a better future. They found Ikagai in the manner in which they spoke. They built a sense of community anchored on kindness, purpose, and living in the moment. Therefore, people in Okinawa strive to live till 100years surrounded by a good climate, excellent food, harmony, and peace.

Japanese people think that each of us has an Ikigai, which refers to a “path to life fulfillment.” Let me remind you that it is not a way to achieve happiness by magic quickly. However, research has proven that combining a balanced diet, exercise, and life-mission focus that Japanese people follow contributes to their longevity, happiness, and prosperity.

Viktor Frankl, who was the German-American psychiatrist and the author of a famous book-Man’s Search for Meaning (Beacon Press, 1992), stated that the inmates who die in the German concentration camp were the ones who lost hope and will to live. So what he does to keep going? He kept on reminding himself of the great scientific works that he wanted to produce and his future ahead. Well, he had found hi Ikigai!

If you want to understand and practice Ikigai, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What motivates you to get up in the morning?
  • What transforms you in your best element?
  • During what activities do you experience flow?
  • What do you find easy to do?
  • What did you like doing as a kid?

You will be able to find your Ikigai when what you love doing is acknowledged, valued, and paid for by the world! So look for this to achieve your Ikigai.

Well, Ikigai is not magic and neither a gateway to eternal happiness. But it helps you does open the door to hope, self-actualization, and personal fulfillment. This leads to a happy life.

Everyone should follow the philosophy of Ikigai and especially people who are faced anxiety and fear. Ikigai should become every organization’s culture, thereby making the workplace a happy place to be!

We are faced with times where there is a threat of war, hunger, and anger coming into our face. Therefore, it is easy to give up and feel sad. This is the reason many young people from Japan are migrating to Canada or the United States.

Christopher Okigbo said, “After the storm, a rainbow will appear. Thus it important to keep going. Find your own Ikigai. Keep walking. Find your life purpose and pursue it. Dream big. For the demons who stalk our land with swagger will sooner or later eat the dust of their wickedness. The dawn of a New Nigeria beckons!’

Get started to discover your own Ikigai.

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