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  • Tamara Dinius

What is your Ikigai?

What makes you get out of bed in the morning? What drives you to continue when every ounce of your being is fatigued beyond measure? How do you define success? What is your Ikigai?

I often feel out-of-sync with societal values. I do not place much importance on status, fame, or wealth. It’s not that I didn’t strive for it once or twice in my life, but it left me feeling empty and unfulfilled. I always assumed that I didn’t measure up to the American view of success. Then I saw an article that surprised me. It states that what we perceive is not in alignment with what we truly value.

What we see and hear on the news and social media often form our perception. As a result, we perceive success as power, possessions, prestige. However, a recent survey by IPSOS suggests that 90% of Americans think success is more about happiness. "It's no longer about the car or the house. Instead, people are focused on leading a fulfilling life, whether that means finding a better career, achieving personal goals, or spending more time with their families."

I found this so freeing. It was like getting a permission slip to follow my Ikigai. Ikigai is a Japanese concept that means "a reason for being". The word refers to having a direction or purpose in life, that which makes one's life worthwhile, and towards which an individual takes spontaneous and willing actions giving them satisfaction and a sense of meaning to life.(Wikipedia)

Ikigai is the union point of four fundamental components of life: passion, vocation, profession and mission. It’s where what you love meets what you are good at, meets what you can be valued and paid for, meets that which the world needs. I love this concept. Whether you call it Ikigai or living your best life, it makes sense to me.

Creating art is what gets me out of bed in the morning. When I am in my studio, I lose all track of time. Some evenings I have to drag myself from the studio to the house, I am that exhausted. But it’s a good exhaustion. It’s the kind of exhaustion that leaves you feeling like you made a difference in the world. Not all days are as equally rewarding.

There are days that I fail to accomplish anything on my list and I am disheartened with what I have created. The days that I wonder why I have chosen to live a creative life. I ask why I want so much from myself and if I have anything more to give. On these days, I give myself permission to be disappointed, but not to quit. I know it’s only a temporary setback and that tomorrow morning I will get out of bed excited to head back to my studio.

So I ask you. What is your Ikigai? How do you define success?

How are you living your best life? I want that for you. I want that for all of us.


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