Ikigai

960 Relax and Succeed - Ikigai The reason to get up in the morningEven though they may not know the concept abstractly, when you listen to people discuss their work complaints they will always focus on where they can feel that their Ikigai has lost balance. The term is composed by compounding two ideas: iki which is to be alive; and kai, which is the worthwhile result of your being, otherwise stated as your reason for being, your motivation, or the meaning to your existence. Your raison d’etre. I’m sure you can feel the pull of that sensation just reading about it.

One way to help define Ikigai in your life is that it will not change in good times or in bad. Someone who loves firefighting will love it as much in the firehall as they will at a fire. A true writer will enjoy the research for their new book as much as they enjoy the writing of it. And almost everyone who works in a refugee camp will face daily tragedy and yet they continue with an enthusiasm and energy rarely seen in the corporate world.

Bruce Lee did it with martial arts, Prince did it with music, Kurosawa did it with film. My father did it with a roofing company. If that last one doesn’t seem to fit as well, that might point to your misunderstandings about its nature.

960 Relax and Succeed - IkigaiTo move around the concept; my father enjoyed earning his pay by doing the same level of work he would do on his own home. In doing so he would create value by making someone else’s home and property more secure and by providing for his own family. He also loved the feeling of great satisfaction that he took from his customer’s satisfaction, and in all the years he ran the company I can recall my father being taken advantage of twice, but I have no recollection at all of an unhappy customer. I also have no recollection of my father ever complaining about his job, he only preferred when it wasn’t raining so he could do it.

There is no shortage of unfulfilled office workers who derive no personal joy or meaning from their work. There is also no shortage of chronically poverty-stricken artists who have trouble finding or transmitting the value in what they do. Even among the “successful,” there are doctors who care and doctors who like expensive cars.

It is important to note, however, that the existence of a Porsche doesn’t translate to an absence of ikigai. Sometimes–but not always–great personal gain can come from the pursuit of our ikigai. But to the individual the gains will be irrelevant. If they were fantastically wealthy they would still pursue their ikigai; if they were not paid at all they would still do it with equal zeal. Wayne Dyer didn’t need money to motivated him, nor does Yo-Yo Ma. Once you are fed and sheltered nothing you can buy can offer more life satisfaction than your ikigai.

960 Relax and Succeed - These are free rangeLook at your life. Where is it out of balance? Because if you look at the stresses in this world they can easily be attributed to the fact that so many people are not balanced in this way. To do unfulfilling work with unappreciative people in a largely meaningless way is to court a type of death. It is one thing to make a beautiful cake that will be consumed only hours later in joy, and another thing altogether to make a cheap plastic toy that won’t survive the birthday party.

Today’s youth can sense the lack of ikigai in their parent’s lives. They feel the tension, the anger, the frustration and the lack of satisfaction. How many children in the world hear their parents discuss their life’s work with passion? What did you hear as a child, and if you have children what do they hear you communicate about your work? What emotional state would they most closely associate with your work?

You have not failed if you have not found your place yet. The journey itself is a honing process. But it is important to keep this concept in mind. Many people would never have taken promotions or jobs or would have never left the children in a day-home, etc. etc. etc. if they had paid more attention to the notion of ikigai.

Be still. Spend some real time meditating on this. You are not finding a mystery, you are realising your true self. You cannot get this wrong any more than you can get your favourite colour wrong. The only thing you can do is to never ask the question, which in a way is like never actually starting to live at all. It’s in you. Find it and release it. We’re waiting for you.

With love, s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.

Inspiration, Enthusiasm and Motivation

812 Relax and Succeed - I love being meInspiration. It has “in spirit” right in it. The root word behind enthusiasm means possessed by God. It’s a motivation; a stimulus to action. If these things aren’t in your life they should be. A friend and I made an entire feature film motivated by a desire to discuss the strange behaviour of many of our friends who went to jobs every single day that they hated.

I know bored people. Unmotivated people. Uninspired artists. Unenthusiastic participants and passionless parents.  But the truth is their spirits are simply not in motion. Every human being is a creation machine. Every day we build a life. You’re not just moving around some flesh and blood. Your existence is far more like the work of a novelist. You life is a story you create. People who have a lot of good days do so because they choose to. They’re intentional about it.

I’ve got other blog posts for people who are sad, this is for those of you who are just not in motion. You’re existing not living. You probably don’t even have to change jobs. But you do have get invested in your own life. You have to find ways to make your work matter.

812 Relax and Succeed - If you are happyMaybe you’re a security guard at a mall. You don’t make a lot of money, you can move a bit up the ladder, but really the value you’ll create in your life won’t be ego value it’ll be quality of life. Maybe you’ll always do your best to smile and make people feel welcome. Maybe you share your lunch and give dignity to some homeless person. Maybe you buy a little old lady coffee every day and let her waste your break telling her about her grandkids because you can tell it really matters. And you’re right–it does.

You have to find things that matter like that in your life. You need reasons. You need the sort of reason that easily gets you out of bed because you’re happy to live your own life. It’s a lot easier than you’re imagining. You think you have to go hike the Annapurna Trail or scuba dive through a famous wreck, or cross the Sahara on a camel or something, but all you have to do come alive within your own daily life.

You have no idea how fantastic an ordinary day is when your mind is filled with wonder. Have you looked at little kids faces? How exciting everything is? They jump up and down at sounds and colours and puppies. Every new person they meet might be their new friend. Learn from that. Have more wonder. Create more things, relationships and ideas without fear of reactions. Do it the way a great scientist finds something. He or she isn’t trying to get a million dollars from Sweden for a Nobel, the scientist is trying to solve the riddle. That’s their motivation.

812 Relax and Succeed - Be so happyIf you have kids I mean… just think about it. You created a human. You have to really stop and think sometimes. That was some cells inside you or your wife. And now it’s playing hockey or getting B- in math. Math? Those cells you tipped over like dominoes number one and two–those lead to something that can do math?!?! Seriously parents. They are only every age for one day. The next day, poof. Invest in that. That’s amazing.

Even if you don’t have kids. Maybe you’re a collector. A conversationalist. A buff. Maybe you have a job like law or politics where you can have an inspirational impact on others. Maybe you’re a great friend, or you run every day and you absolutely love it. Adding love to the world counts. It doesn’t matter what you do or where. What matters is that you do it, that you do it genuinely, and that you do it one moment at a time. Everything after that is just surfing the wave you get.

Come alive in your own life. Shake off your low expectations of it. Start to think like you did when you were five. What did you want to be then? What about that life appealed to you? Because it probably still does. So what’s its new form? Should you take skiing back up? Go back to school? Record your music? Actually start having heart to hearts with your kid? It doesn’t matter as long as you’re adding to the universe by being original. By taking original, authentic action that means something to you.

There are people who ventured out of the cave looking for new vistas. Some–more timid–stayed back and protected things. Too many people are acting like we need too much protecting. What we really need is more living. More alive-ness. Come on people.

Put on some music in the morning and dance as you get dressed. Listen to the comedy channel on your satellite radio. Add your laughter to the world. Or cook a great meal, go talk about that movie you saw, figure out a better process at work. As long as you’re expanding the universe you’re good.

Don’t leave your life unlived. That is the only thing it is possible to truly regret. Everything else is simply living.

peace, s

Scott McPherson is a writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and nonprofit organizations around the world.

Other Perspectives #82

766 OP Relax and Succeed - Stuck in between I wanna get my life togetherIt’s a holiday here in Canada, so today I’m linking you to a well-loved post you’re unlikely to have seen. It’s a personal favourite about how we value ourselves and our time on this Earth. I really think you’ll like it. I’m going to enjoy some extra time working on my new book. Wherever you are, do all you can to make your day beautiful too. Enjoy:

Are We Having Fun Yet?

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Much love, s

Scott McPherson is a writer, mindfulness instructor, coach and communications facilitator who works with individuals, companies and nonprofit organizations around the world.

The Law of the Jungle

How good is your life balance between work, family and your social life and friendships? It’s tricky to do, and the constant connectivity of smartphones means you never really leave work. The question is, how much work do you need for success, what kind of success should you target, and how far do you go on that road before it’s too far? When’s work billing life for too much? When are you just being asked to be dedicated and when are you being asked to be abused?

762 Relax and Succeed - Your value doesn't decreaseAmazon is famous for its brutal corporate culture. Weird eh? They brag about it. Can you imagine if we were back in the days of Kings and Queens ruling everything, where your livelihood was entirely in their hands just like it is now, and you happened to live under the King who was a selfish jerk and then bragged about how bad he treated you? That would suck.

The thing is, you probably moved into the neighbourhood intentionally. You may have very actively sought to live under that King. Many many many people–yes me included–have worked towards external goals like wealth or power, but these are really all just attempts to to feel loved and respected. We want people to be impressed by us rather than to love our own lives by feeling connected strongly to our work. (See the second video in last week’s Friday Dose.)

If you go to somewhere like Amazon because they have their oar in some water that you believe in then you can sustain that for a career. You can love creating value for others, but that must be weighed against the cost that King exacts on his kingdom.

762 Relax and Succeed - What's money A man is a successShareholder Value is a much more ethereal thing that most people realize, and no one lays on their deathbed wishing they could stick around to make more money. But a nurse might welcome caring for one more patient. Or a carpenter might love building one more home he put real care into. Or a designer might want to create one last piece of jewelry. But if you’re only at your job for money and status then you’re most certainly doomed.

At your death-bed you’ll realize that neither money nor status goes with you. But the other folks have already lived the joyous moments of a connected life. They carry with them the sense of a life of real value and purpose because it wasn’t about themselves, it was about others. Their lives will carry forward. This is key. Otherwise you will crush yourself.

There’s no way I can criticize someone for pursuing hollow dreams when the nickname some girls painted on my gym bag in Junior High was “Mr. Billion.” I had my first business while I was still in high school. I bought new cars and stupidly expensive clothes. When you look into the face of a kid starving to death due to money, and you spent most people’s monthly wage on one outfit, you just realize you could have done a lot better. You could have made the kind of difference that you would really feel good about. And so next time you do.

762 Relax and Succeed - The poorer we are inwardlyWe’ve got a pretty good brainwashing system. No one did it by design. It just kind of tumbled this way accidentally. But schools train people to compete and win with grades, and then that principle gets converted into money when we’re in the workforce. It’s a treadmill and only half the people figure out their on it before they die, and even then it’s usually because they got really sick or someone significant died to remind them that time is limited and how do you want to spend yours?

Maybe this is the group I feel most compassionate toward in our society. They are trying to impress us and that’s exhausting. They’re making really big sacrifices to get and keep their money and they will eventually realize that it doesn’t create value in our life. You can easily be super rich, in a fantastic house with fantastic cars and with a fantastic spouse–but if you have a crappy way of thinking none of that other stuff will make any difference at all.

Don’t ask yourself what you want to “do” for a living. Ask yourself what you can really get passionate about–where work won’t even feel like work–and then find or create a place where you can do that. Because if you don’t figure that out, Amazon etc. might just convince you to live in the dog-eat-dog world of their corporate and claw-filled jungle.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is a writer, mindfulness instructor, coach and communications facilitator who works with individuals, companies and nonprofit organizations around the world.

The Friday Dose #61

650 FD Relax and Succeed - Don't stay where you are tolerated

Remember, the point of The Friday Dose is that if you’re locked into a mindset that’s painfully sad or angry or worried or lonely, these things are designed to draw your attention in, and redirect your thinking toward these enriching stories and experiences that demonstrate the best Human Beings have to offer. I routinely have people call or write to tell me that they hit the Dose in a bad mood and left in a good one and that is entirely the point. Today let’s start off by humanizing everyone. Below is a link to a collection of:

29 Breathtaking Photos of Human’s Being Human

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Next we’ll take a look a beautiful little reminder that everyone is equal and that only our perceptions of each other change. Change yours to include everyone. Because there’s often this way that you will allow you family to be who they are even though that might not be a personality you would naturally have made friends with. Well if you can love a brother or sister or even a parent who you don’t agree with, then you can do it with strangers too:

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People will complain about the world but there’s already a new crop of social entrepreneurs who see their work as creating beautiful places to spend time in, as opposed to creating businesses that are strictly financially profitable. In fact, these sorts of businesses will often sacrifice some profits to ensure that the workplace itself is an enjoyable place to be. It’s about time we started respecting our own enjoyment of life more than the abstract and extremely variable value of only money. This is what the future can look like and it’s a lot friendlier:

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And finally, we spent some time this week on really bad managers, but this video reminds us that there’s also an increasing number of employers who are having a tighter labour market encourage them to learn or discover that there are far, far better ways to motivate people than the ways that are currently used by people who were trained to only see financial profit as the goal, rather than the new leaders who value quality of life as their driving force:

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There’s a lot more to life than making money and acquiring things that you will drag around with you for your lifetime. As you age you will begin to be far less interested in objects and you’ll be far more interested in experiences, particularly enriching ones with people you genuinely care about. So remember that this weekend. Because if you go shopping, you have doomed yourself to more slavery to your work. But if you go spend time with friends, you will return to work rested, reinvigorated and you’ll be more patient and open minded. So nurture your own peace. And have yourself a wonderful weekend.

All the best, s

The Friday Dose is a collection of cool, interesting and surprising things that are chosen for their potential to distract you away from any painful thought loops that may currently be disrupting your sense of perspective. Save these for when you’re feeling low and you want to change your perspective. They’ll help Enjoy. And please let me know if you bump into any broken links. Thanks!