Why isn't every day meaningful for every person? Is it even possible to live each day in meaningful ways? Sure it is. Let me tell you about a tiny, tiny, tiny little island south of Japan where people live their life's purpose every day. They are happy. They are fulfilled. They are some of the oldest living people in the world. Their secret is ikigai.
Ikigai is a concept that comes from Okinawa, Japan. Ikigai is a simple but abstract map for living a meaningful life. It has four directions:
1. Do what you love
2. Do what you're good at
3. Do what the world needs
4. Do what you can be rewarded for
Although these directions seem simple they are deceivingly difficult to do. This book will transform ikigai from its abstract form into a simple practice that is within reach for anyone. The key is to start with part-time ikigai.
Examples of ikigai in action are often magical. As a young boy and into his adulthood David Michaels stuttered severely. In clinical terms his stutter was considered the most difficult to treat. But David started to work in a liquor store. Before long his focus turned to one specific section of the sales floor; the scotch section. He learned that each scotch whiskey ever made has unique tasting notes that make it special. David became obsessed with scotch. As he spent more of his days learning about scotch he began to share his knowledge with customers. Like singer Mel Tillis' stutter disappeared when he sang, David noticed that his stutter vanished when he talked to anyone about scotch. David credits his triumph over his stutter to his passion for scotch whiskey. Today he is a renowned whiskey expert and travels the world tasting and purchasing whiskey on behalf of his employer. He feels his life is meaningful because of ikigai.
In the 1990's Kevin Kent worked as a sous chef at the famed St. John restaurant under celebrated chef Fergus Henderson. One day in the kitchen Kevin saw another worker using a Japanese carbon steel knife. It was the most beautiful tool / piece of art he had ever seen. Of course he wanted one. But Japanese knives are handmade and expensive. Kevin decided to save up to purchase one for himself. He was hooked by the romance of forged steel honed razor sharp into a blade that made his job a delight.
Kevin moved back to Calgary. His passion for Japanese knives followed him. He continued his trade in the kitchen but he brought a few knives back from London to sell to other chefs. Kevin's flare for knife sales was immediate. So he went to work to open a shop that specialized in Japanese knives. He made friendships and connections with important knife makers in Japan. He opened his first store called Knifewear. His ikigai is the usefulness and art of sharpness. Today Kevin owns four Knifewear stores. He is considered the leading expert and supplier of Japanese knives in Canada.
Mandy Stobo has a knack for connecting to people through her art. When she was a young single mother she struggled to understand how her art could matter during the social media explosion. She started to grab profile photos of remarkable people online and paint "bad portraits" of them. She'd snap a photo and send them a copy of her painting with the heading "Bad Portrait time!" The recipients started to use their bad portraits as their profile photos. Her popularity and connection to people grew.
Today, Mandy will happily paint a bad portrait of anyone who asks. She has a special double ikigai: "To create" and "To delight"