Don’t quit your day dream!
Author unknown

Ikigai: Japanese concept that refers to a reason for being.

Some time ago an intriguing article appeared in the newspaper entitled: “I love Mondays!” No- the writer had not quit her day job but she did put certain measures in place (e.g. no meetings Monday mornings; clearing up loose ends on Friday afternoons) so she could look forward to work on Monday. I remember thinking- this is a big deal. Here was a simple and workable approach to help counter the fretting, gloominess, or feeling of resignation about Mondays that many of us experience.

As useful as the article was, most of us probably need more than a few tips to prod us out of the fog of morning slumber- and not just on Mondays.  Regardless of what we do over the course of the day, we are going to encounter tedious tasks, difficult people, or frustrating interruptions along the way. What makes us want to get up in the morning and look forward to the day ahead?

In a short piece about retirement, Neil Pasricha refers to the Japanese word “ikigai” – that something in life which inspires us. The Japanese as it turns out have no word for retirement or the concept of stopping work. As Pasricha describes it, ikigai is “the reason you get out of bed in the morning”. This of course has nothing to do with paid employment. It can be paid work, but it can also be an interest or hobby, your family, a dream you are working towards, or a joy for the ordinary in every day. It is what gives us that zest- a reason to move in the morning. It doesn’t matter much what it is- except to you, it matters a lot!

You may say that you don’t have anything special in your life right now but you still manage to get up in the morning. True, but having a sense of purpose that ignites anticipation can put a whole new spin on the day- even if that dream seems remote from possibility at the moment. Perhaps we take for granted what we do or we have misconceptions about the scale of what a sense of purpose should be. Maybe the dreams are buried beneath layers of responsibilities and the routine of our lives. Maybe we have forgotten how to dream. Surely we can all recall a time when we felt a sense of excitement about something and it lightened our day.

What inspires us doesn’t have to be grand but it needs to be our own. Those possibilities -our reasons for getting up in the morning- stand out from ordinary every day events because we see them within a broader context. They are bigger than us. A bricklayer for example isn’t simply placing one brick on another- he is helping create a majestic building that will be a wonderful place to work.

What makes you want to get up in the morning? Neil Pasricha wants “to increase happiness in organizations.” I want to support women at midlife and beyond in living a vibrant life. What do you care about? The possibilities are endless:

  • A new work opportunity opens up that you are thrilled about and you decide to apply
  • Being there for those we love and care about
  • A personal cause or favourite project
  • Volunteer work
  • Running; sewing; cabinet making; jazz dance; opera, learning a new language and so on…
  • Doing what you actually want to do- whatever that is.

We all need a reason to get moving- to be engaged in something that is greater than our own selves. In so doing, we are better able to deal with whatever life hands us and we are rarely alone. Find your ikigai. Love getting up every day of the week!

For those interested in Neil Pasricha’s article in the August 20, 2016 Toronto Star see



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