Health and Happiness to you despite COVID-19! And…. IKIGAI to you! What’s that? Japanese secret to better living! In coronavirus harrowing times that’s got everyone anxious, distraught and perturbed, it’s fitting to talk about this philosophy.

When immunity, economy, sensex, spirits are plummeting, this concept from land-of-the-rising-Sun offers reassuring might to fight and remain upbeat in this global downturn of all sorts. Only parameters escalating being COVID-19 cases, depression -of minds, hearts & economies- and scarcity -of sanitizers, masks, toilet-paper and endurance- it’s vital to
still find motivation to wake-up each morning.

Living in Japan, I was enchanted with everything. Politeness, perfection, preciseness, punctuality, Kanji, Haiku and Mount-Fuji! Twenty-two years having come back I learnt about IKIGAI. That’s Japan. How so ever much one knows about it, there’s yet more mystery and one discovers how little one really does. That Newton feeling of a little boy on the seashore whilst the vast ocean of knowledge lay undiscovered!

IKIGAI simply means “reason for being or waking-up every morning”. How simply beautiful is that! Its beauty lies in its simplicity. But what about the complex complexity behind the simple simplicity? Why wake-up? Till sometime back, when life was “life”, there were many. School/college, office, morning-walk/jog, gym, newspaper, flight, metro, sports-practice, nature-photography, early-morning-shoot …….it could be anything or many things you don’t realize consciously but still wake-up for. Since this endemic it is to decontaminate or rush for sanitizers and N95-respirator-masks.

World in complete lockdown, life is shutdown. Schools, universities, cinema-halls, sports-facilities, amusement-parks, eating-joints, malls, travel shutdown. Exams postponed indefinitely, offices notified work-from-home till further notice, travels banned, shopping ceased, yet you wake-up. So do other creatures! That is the basis of living and you’ll be alive & happy till that motive exists. But you need a larger life-purpose to goad you into the future even without these miniscule compulsions.

Doesn’t everyone have a reason? What’s it for a squirrel? No competitive-exams, no law-school, no PPO, no degree, no work -in office or from home- no worry about racing to buy sanitizers & surgical-masks during COVID-19 epidemic. Only collect nuts! Still busy without business everyday? So active! Therefore happy? However depressed and dejected, if you indulge in strenuous exercise and soak in sunshine, you’ll be happy too. The catch lies in the fact of “act”. Being active boosts critical brain neurotransmitters -Serotonin, Oxytocin, Dopamine and Endorphins- hormones responsible for your happiness. Discipline everyday keeps depression at bay. But, before jogging your body and brain, you need to arise and for that you require a reason within.

IKIGAI from Okinawa, where people live the longest, consists of “IKI” meaning “life”/“existence” and GAI(KAI) meaning “worth”/“purpose”. IKIGAI means “a worthwhile purpose to live for”. Just as happiness has its own connotations, to each her/his own IKIGAI but IKIGAI one must have. Amalgamation of passion, profession, vocation and mission, IKIGAI sits at the crossroads of these crucial variables of being. It’s just about concentrating your physical, mental, intellectual & spiritual energies onto your mission course knowing WHAT YOU want to DO. Clarity of life’s objective drives your creative genius, mind, heart & soul to steer your spirits.

Actual IKIGAI isn’t much about external pressures or influences but about your inner power that nudges you to every new dawn. It’s about self-discipline, habit, restraint, nerve, fervour and dedication even in these exasperating times as entire humanity is struggling against this global pandemic. Instead of panicking over the impending ominous hovering Covid-19 threat, utilize time for activities rarely undertaken. The fast-paced life barely allowed family-time, being home doing “nothing”, connecting with yourself. Begin that soul-searching. With every possible outdoor leisure, temptation and diversion sealed, you’ve enough time to look within- yourself and your family. Emotions or relationships, dedicate fulltime to things left untended, put your house in order and sort things out. Set wellbeing of body, mind, soul and family on course and get ready to start a new itinerary of life. Steer life on a path to amelioration estimating planet and environment health too. Life is not just YOU but everything that makes you. Being shut out of everyplace, restricted within homes, we realize the basis of our existence -family- our very foundation without which we don’t exist. Ditto for earth -humanity’s home- and earthlings –the larger family. Replacing ravenousness and egocentric exploitation with altruism can only prevent nature’s fury. Manoeuvre life’s journey restricting needs, restraining actions and regulating exploitation of resources.

IKIGAI stirs you into arising everyday to “act”, even if it’s just self-discovery helping ascertain life’s ultimate purpose of serving humanity. Happiness will flood your being. Wake-up to the decade’s need and pursue a goal much higher than your desires and more challenging than this global crisis. Dare the coronavirus, stay safely home, kindle the fire of IKIGAI working towards the happiness of survival and existence!!