Ikigai - stress and a sense of purpose



🧡This post is a bit of a tangent, but it's also such an important topic


🧡While there are many practical ways to manage stress (I'll discuss these soon), a vital theme is perception of stress, and having an underlying sense of purpose


🧡Ikigai is a Japanese word I love, it is the concept of having a purpose or direction





🧡 a common theme in people who are highly stressed, is that they feel they've lost their sense of purpose


🧡Ikigai roughly translates to 'reason for being', ie that vital sense of meaning that humans strive for. It encompasses finding something :

🙏That you love

🙏That the world needs

🙏That you are good at

🙏That you can be paid for



🧡Even if you can't be paid for it (ie it's not your main income), the other factors are crucial


🧡A brilliant definition of stress is

'a mismatch between the perceived demands of a situation, and your perceived ability to cope'


🧡Ie stress is not always purely related to external factors - while a situation may be highly stressful, if your stress resilience is high, and you feel you can cope, you will actually feel OK


🧡In medicine I have had the privilege of meeting many thousands of patients over the years and hearing their stories


🧡 this is something I notice as a common theme - some people have huge demands on their health /time /wellbeing yet they retain a positive outlook and just seem to cope

While others become overwhelmed at seemingly small challenges


🧡This is not meant to be a judgement, we all walk different paths in life - but it has made me reflect on why and how - especially over the past crazy year with covid


🧡Having a sense of purpose in life, and therefore a sense of self, seems to be a common theme in people with high resilience and happiness levels.


🧡This means that while challenges may occur, you still have an identity and goal outside your immediate surroundings, and you can look beyond your situation and remain calm


🧡Finding ikigai means discovering what you truly believe and desire, rather than being consumed by the details of dailylife.


🧡Practices like mindfulness, and learning to be present and aware, are all steps on this path

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