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About Finding the “Ikagai”

Dalai Lama in one of his seminal speeches had said that “Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions“. It’s not what you have or who you have but rather what you do, how you act and how you live, that many philosophers and thinkers say is the key to happiness.  The concept of “Ikagai” stems from these principles and in Japanese, means something akin to  “a reason for being” and translated in English it refers to the “reason you wake up in the  morning”.

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This idea of having a reason to wake up in the morning is beautifully explained and illustrated in a brilliant and precise work called Ikagai – Giving Everyday Meaning and Joy by Yukari Mitsuhashi . In this book, Ms. Mitsuhasi , takes the reader to the very root of the Ikagai word, explaining that the Japanese word of “Ikagai” consists of two Japanese characters, “iki” meaning life and “gai” meaning value or worth. The life that the “iki” refers to is not the big life and its meaning, but rather daily life – seikatsu; and about the joy a person finds living day to day , without which their life as a whole would not be a happy one. She further shares that while in West, the concept often leans towards finding happiness through work, in Japan, most people find their “ikagai” from their hobbies or their loved ones and not something they are necessarily paid to do. The concept of Ikagai per Ms. Mitsuhashi is so ingrained in the Japanese culture, that through their art and language, the Japanese people are constantly reminded of the joy that can be found in everyday life and will lead to a fulfilling life. Thus, Ikagai with its features of Everyday life, the act of giving, understanding and accepting emotions and active way of living leads to a stable state of mind, growth and progress and most importantly finding a purpose of life. She illustrates this concept by sharing stories of lives of people, both famous as well everyday man/woman, who have found their ikagai, through a variety of sources, including, hobbies, food, volunteering, or through their work, by getting better at their craft or seeing the impact that their work brings. Through several interviews, the author weaves stories of writers, business men and women and athletes, who have found their Ikagai through their work or by finding something worthwhile, post their retirement and how this finding of Ikgai has helped them succeed and find contentment. She brings the circle to its close, by showing how pursuit of Ikagai is the actions that lead to happiness.

This is a short, but a mighty book! It’s thought provoking and forces the reader to reflect on his or her life and  the directions it is heading towards. The author’s examples are well chosen, in the sense these are successful men and women, but they are like us and their life and pursuit of Ikagai, has helped them succeed, thus providing the reader with role models and inspirations. The author has written with simplicity, which works very well, as the ideas that the author puts through are contemplative and require thinking as the reader navigates through the book.  Furthermore, the concepts are clearly enunciated and the “plot” keeps moving forward. One of the most exemplary things about this work of non fiction, was that Ms. Mitsuhashi does not beat a concept to death, by constant repetition, but manages to find the fine balance of emphasizing on an idea and moving to the next concept.

To end, I would strongly recommend this book to everyone. It is good to sometimes sit and think about our lives and the good things in it and this book helps you value those good things and channelize them into your “Ikagai”

This book was part of my Non Fiction November Reads.

Let It Go……

I am seeing too many friends drop off and take a hiatus from blogging because it is getting a bit too much. I know exactly how stressful this is becoming…half the time I am worrying that I have yet not blogged about a book and started on Y book and I disliked Z book so much, that I don’t want to blog about it, but should! We all seem to be laying increasing emphasis on whether we will like a book or not; if we do like it, what would we write in our blogs; if we don’t like it, will it, will we find the right words to explain our angst about the book….this project, that reading event…STOP!!

I remember when I started this blog, it was only a place to put drown some thoughts and help improve my writing. Writing about books  was easy because, I was constantly reading so many of them; but increasingly this became a bookish blog, which was never the main the intended idea to begin with! Its only lately that I have once again began to blog of things besides books….I don’t think it was a conscious decision, but somewhere I believe my mind was also exhausted of book reviews. I was tired of critiquing all kinds of books ….the good, the bad and the ugly and worrying over whether I was making enough progress on my projects, especially when other aspects of life took over, like job!

Time to end this madness….I will still write about books, but only if I really like em or don’t like em or because I feel like. Considering my love for books, this blog will continue to have bookish tendencies, but I will try and blog a little more about other things in life. I am not abandoning any of my projects, simply because I still see a lot of value in them – had it not been for some of these projects and reading events, I would have never read some great works and those would have a been a sad miss. What I refuse to do is stress over these reading projects and deadlines…no one is going to kill me if I read a book later than the stated date or chose not to complete one if I don’t like it!

Books and writing are two of my keenest pleasures…they are not my hobbies, they are me…manifestation of what I truly am and what I truly like. To turn them into six headed projects with gnatt charts and timelines is plain dumb. Its time to go back and read because that’s what I believe defines my essence and write because that’s what I believe I am born to do!! Hang around….this blog just took a very interesting turn (at least I hope you will find it interesting!)

I leave you with…naturally : have a great weekend! 🙂

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