Ikigai can help you have a happier winter
It’s hard to believe that we are almost two thirds of the way through 2022 already.
The autumn/winter season is upon us and the news feels like it can’t get any worse.
Even though it’s many years since I left teaching, I still make resolutions at this time of year.
With this in mind, I’ve been learning about the Japanese philosophy of Ikigai, and using it to help me plan a happier, healthier winter.
Here’s what I’ve learned so far, and hopefully there’s some inspiration here for you too.
Ikigai and longevity
One international study showed that people with a sense of purpose in life are at a lower risk of heart disease.
Areas all over the world with high numbers of people living long and healthy lives have shown to have ‘purpose in life’ as a common link.
There are several books available on the topic of Ikigai if you want to study and learn in more depth.
I recommend Ikigai by Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles, which is a beautiful, warm and comforting read.
Four principles for happiness
Ikigai has four defining principles.
- Challenge – opportunities for improvement, mastery and growth
- Choice – something that gives you a feeling of freedom
- Commitment – to a skill or a belief, maybe a cause or a group of people
- Well-being – positive relationships to bring energy and good health
You might already know what your Ikigai is if you have an activity or purpose that you see yourself doing for the rest of your life.
If you’re not sure you’ve found your Ikigai, here are three questions to help you narrow it down.
- What do you love?
- What are you good at?
- What does the world need?
I would suggest that ‘the world’ doesn’t need to be the entire world. I want to encourage you to think of your own definition instead.
In my view ‘what you are good at’ isn’t a fixed idea either. It could be something that you want to be good at, or that you are improving.
When I started to think about my own Ikigai, I came up with the following list.
- Homeopathy – gives my life meaning and helps me earn a living
- Gardening – allotment, small garden and indoor plants
- Yoga, swimming, running, walking – each of these twice a week
- Quilt-making – one I’m working on and another idea
- Knitting – usually socks
- Cooking – especially soup, stews, salads and cakes
- Writing – my journal, this blog, my newsletter
- Culture – art, film, music, books
- Quality time – with people I care about
These are all things that I love to do, am reasonably good at and have some benefit for others (as well as myself).
Homeopathy (at the top of the list) is something I love, and gives my life meaning as I see so many people regain their health and confidence.
My work does give me energy, but it takes energy too.
When I make time for other activities, it helps me feel more balanced.
This is why I have to make time to do them regularly.
Planning a happier winter
Some of the things on my list happen naturally in the summer, but the winter months can be more challenging.
It’s darker and colder and I often feel less motivated.
Rainy days are the worst.
When the days are shorter and there’s less light, it’s harder to make time for sewing, for example.
In Ikigai, physical movement is highly valued, and I realise that I make this happen during daylight hours, which are much shorter during the winter months.
Things to do now
- Set aside two full days in October to tidy the allotment and garden to ready for winter
- Plan a trip to the London Fields lido (and meet a friend)
- Work on the unfinished quilt for a few hours on a Sunday afternoon, watching a film
- When the quilt is finished, start knitting a new pair of socks
- Plan soups, stews and cakes I want to make each week
Things to do later
- Revisit Yoga with Adrienne online classes
- Keep Sundays free so I can go for a walk, do some cooking, tidying and a little sewing [Related post: Simple Sundays]
- Plan one-to-one time with friends maybe for walks, a swim, seeing art or going to the cinema
- Keep half a day aside for writing each week
- Sit outside with a coffee and a blanket on sunny days
Thinking about Ikigai has given me new motivation to make time for activities I enjoy.
Rest, sleep and quality downtime are building blocks to help build resilience.
Maybe, like me, you can add Ikigai to help restore energy during the winter months.
What’s your Ikigai?
I hope this has inspired you to plan activities to help you find more happiness and well-being in the months ahead.
If you need support for your energy and well-being, and you want to find out whether homeopathy would be a good fit for you, feel free to get in touch.