Essays

Ikigai and the Happiness of Pursuit

Words By Sheila Lam

Purpose and fulfillment can come in innumerable forms. It is fluid and ever-changing. It is not about achievement or performance. It can come from within ourselves conquering fears, from our peers and family (chosen or kin), from our hobbies and avocation or in service to our community – from anywhere so long as it satisfies us in a heartening way.

 

Intention is so important. It is the why behind our actions and it influences our lives in a myriad of ways. The Japanese have a practice of determining your purpose in life. It is the ikigai. Uniting the Japanese words or expressions iki meaning “life” and gai meaning “worth”. It is an increasingly popular concept beyond the borders of this East Asian country. To determine a sense of fulfillment, it implores you to look deep into your motivations and our society as a whole. It asks: what do you love? What are you good at? What does the world need? And what can you be paid for? At the intersection of all these, a Venn diagram reveals your passions, mission, calling, and profession. It can provide you with a lens to appreciate not only the everyday joys but also a larger vocation.

What is ikigai?

Kenichiro Mogi, cognitive neuroscientist, biophysicist, and author of The Little Book of Ikigai, perhaps said it best in a reflection of the Japanese lifestyle, “the greatest secret of ikigai, ultimately, has to be the acceptance of oneself. Individual uniqueness is something to be discovered and worked on, not merely assumed and preserved.” On a Monos offsite on Galiano off the coast of Vancouver Island, our first team retreat, we endeavoured to see ourselves better by examining our lives through the ikigai book. An exercise to understand why we are in this business because without being aware of our own intentions, where does it all lead? It was not some ikigai test we set out to pass, simply an opportunity to reflect. What we learnt was not only a better grasp of how we want to operate but also, the happiness of pursuit.

How to find your ikigai

Purpose and fulfillment can come in innumerable forms. It is fluid and ever-changing. It is not about achievement or performance. It can come from within ourselves conquering fears, from our peers and family (chosen or kin), from our hobbies and avocation or in service to our community – from anywhere so long as it satisfies us in a heartening way. We look at both what sparks the light in us and moves us and how we impact and are valued in our environment. As a team, we found aligning themes that have presented themselves naturally within our work and identity as a company. Connecting with creativity, relishing the imperfect moments, living a life less hurried, an openness to new experiences, and bringing together a community of people with the shared values of adventure and inclusivity. Discovering these centre notions enables us to create and move forward with intention. It gives us a sense of fulfillment within our work. As a brand, this is our purpose. This is our ikigai. ■

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