Joy @ Work #4 Little joys - try an ikigai outlook
Each article seeks different ways to increase the joy in your life, one of which, I hope, will be just perfect for you. What is crucial is for you to move the information from theory, to practical application in your life. Are you starting to find some aspects that are assisting you to find those gems of joy that are tucked away in a corner of your workplace and life?
It is the tucked away theme that I will continue to explore in this article.
If you are struggling to get up and face work every day, or even most days, then joy is not what you will be thinking about most of the time. And that is exactly the point, your task, should you wish to change your daily feel is to look for the ikigai. Ikigai (is pronounced ‘ee-ki-guy’) are two Japanese words: iki meaning life and gai meaning value or reason. It is the WHY you get up each day.
It is finding things that give you pleasure, purpose, self-worth and, of course, joy!
This is not necessarily your big life goals and purpose on this planet, although that is an abundant source of constant applied joy, it is also the manifold little joys that are hidden in every nook if you look for them. The lovely part is exactly because they are little and therefore easily repeatable they all add up to a very positive impact. This is one way to sustain you to continually build your resilience, energy and motivation day by day, small joy by small joy.
Another super aspect of ikigai is that it cannot only make this moment much more tolerable and all the way to enjoyable, it also builds a firm foundation for your aging and especially for you to live a long and happy life. Being basically joyful in your attitude, actively searching for, finding and relishing, your little joys every day can have a profoundly constructive affect.
These little joys might also be a part of your big life purpose, or they may not, and they will still be a part of providing the energy and motivation for you to achieve your life’s purpose. In research from the Tohoku University of Medicine, where 55,000 people were asked if they had ikigai in their lives, the ones who said, ‘no’ were more likely to be unemployed, have poor physical and mental health, and at a greater risk of heart disease. The effort to look for, recognise and appreciate the little joys in life can have a very widely beneficial effect.
This diagram shows the interaction of the aspects of ikigai:
If you are able to meet all four aspects, then that is really wonderful, however, even managing one or two of the aspects moves your awareness in the right direction. The sign that you are achieving ikigai for you, is when you find that you have a spontaneous smile on your face.
Here are 8 ways to increase your ikigai quotient:
1. Start a list of small joys and keep adding to it
Initially, think of some small things that you can do or see both during and after your work day. Maybe it is that perfect cup of tea, the satisfaction of completing a task, saying Hi to a work colleague or placing a shell from your holiday in your workplace or pocket. The whole point is that it is easy to do and may be enjoyed several times in a day. Now that you have recognised that they are small joys, make sure you DO them, and be cognisant of them AS you do them to heighten your enjoyment. Keep adding to your little joys list.
2. Check and choose your BEAT to increase your focus on NOW! Those of you already performing the simple 8-minute routine of Mind Chi will be very cognisant of the power of these two steps, (please see the Appendix for more information). Checking your BEAT is very simple and can be performed in a few seconds. It is an acronym for Body, Emotions, Actions and Thoughts and is based on CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy). Do a mental scan of your Body - are you aware of any tensions? Are you ready to eat, drink, look, hear what you wish to focus on? With your Emotions, are you positively anticipating? A is for Actions; might you stop all other activities and just concentrate on the one thing you are about to enjoy? Finally, T for Thoughts, could you think about times you have enjoyed this before, what does it take to make this more enjoyable? Check in with your BEAT in the now and choose to change any aspects so you can make them the best few moments that you are able.
3. Take pride in all you do, even, and specially, small things A term I like to share is ‘labour of love’. Whatever you do, do it with all your attention and your best effort - why? Because of the satisfaction YOU will receive in knowing that you have done your best endeavour and IF you get a bonus of someone noticing or even saying thank you, well that is an additional windfall!
4. Allow yourself to be totally absorbed Hmmmm, nice legs! One day I was fortunate to enjoy a very expensive glass of wine. We did the whole ritual, checking the bouquet, gently swilling and looking at the legs (the term used for the wine running back down the glass sides) then savouring the shape and strength of the bouquet and finally a small sip, swilling it around our mouths and breathing air over it, all before it is swallowed. Now wait and breath in again as you contemplate the length of the tastes and the layers of the flavours and what they remind you of. This ritual really heightens the enjoyment because of the focus on the one topic. Sometime later, with the same friends, over a more everyday wine, we went through the same ritual. We were all surprised at how much more enjoyment we had from a wine we had drunk many times before, it added several pounds (£! Not weight!) worth of additional enjoyment.
5. It is the sum of all the small joys Ikigai also reminds us to enjoy all the small steps of the journey towards your goal or destination. It might be that you want to go far, and that is marvellous, and it is very important to hold the image of what you want to achieve, but do you only think of that end achievement or destination? If so, you may miss the wonder of getting there. Each step is as important, as without it you will not arrive. Look for all the joys along the way.
6. Look forward to the future, even if now isn’t so good Are you going through a tough time right now? It is crucial to look to a future where things will be brighter. If you think of your life as 100% and maybe at the moment the bad part is 79%, this still leaves you with 21% that is okay. You are alive, you can make decisions, you are in control of your emotions, so stand in the 21% part because this will give you enough energy to start to make it 22% and 25% and keep pushing until you are more than 75% good. Often it is those little joys that can help you to turn the tide, one percent at a time and quite quickly the good will start to gain momentum and your progress will speed up.
7. Put your purpose into action Do you have a dream? Something you have always wished you could do or be? Something that feels ‘mightier than yourself’? If yes, then start to put your purpose into action. This means that you think about all the very small steps that might be taken to begin the journey. Gather some information; speak to someone who has already done it; have a dedicated piggy bank, whatever it is, do at least a few steps every week. Before long, you will be quite surprised at how far you have come. This will increase your ikigai quotient in a large way.
8. Try a little gratitude each day There is a growing body of evidence that appreciating all the little and big good things you have experienced in the past 24 hours, or think that you may soon enjoy, has an cumulatively positive effect. This is also step 8 of Mind Chi where you take a minute to think of all those things you have or will have for which to be grateful. Knowing that you will be performing this daily ritual, assists you to notice and almost collect these gems as the day progresses.
May the ikigai philosophy fill you with joys, energy, good health and happiness.