Finding My Ikigai

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Rediscovering a Passion and Converting it into a Venture 

                                                                                                             By Meenakshi Sharma

 

As far back as I can remember, I was totally, madly & deeply in love with books. Whether I was happy or sad, celebrating or sulking, alone or with people, books are what gave me the best company in all seasons and for all the right reasons. 

Writing was a natural progression once I began admiring the power of words to convey emotions and with that my favourite authors became my mentors making English Literature the best choice for my graduation. My love for Journalism and flair for writing crisp news items became far more pronounced when I followed it up with a Post Graduate Diploma in Mass Communication from the prestigious Indian Institute of Mass Communication (New Delhi).  

Marriage with a Naval Officer and a decision to have children made it challenging for me to pursue full time journalism (way back in the 1990’s) but writing came to my rescue once again as I got plenty of opportunities for freelance assignments thus keeping me engaged and meaningfully occupied. Life gave me myriad opportunities thanks to my belief that one should never turn down a good and this is what resulted in a foray into Management Education and a subsequent business opportunity in the area of HR Consulting. 

Finding my Ikigai 

Everything was going well until a vacation to the UK and a visit to the Globe Theatre to watch a Shakespeare play became the first reminder that I had drifted away from my dream of being surrounded by amazing books. A year later, I read ‘Ikigai’ by Hector Garcia and Fransec Miralles and was forced to ask myself – “What is the Meaning of My life?” “Do we pursue activities that support this answer?” This is the question that the book Ikigai seeks to ask each of us as the book explores the life of the community of Okinawa that has been nicknamed the Longevity Village because of their high life expectancy. These villagers thrive on being busy in meaningful activities that have a deeper purpose. 

Ikigai also refers to Viktor Frankl’s book “Man’s Search for Meaning” which is based on his experience in the Nazi camp that eventually taught him that a purpose driven life is the real answer to overcoming obstacles and sorrows. Ikigai by Hector Garcia and Francesca Milares helps each one of us dig deep into our memory to figure out exactly what we need. It also asks us some pertinent questions – “What do you love doing the most?” “Do you remember what you really wanted to do as a child?” “Did you dream of converting your passion into your profession?” “Are there some things which make you feel alive?” “Can you get paid for it?”

 It demonstrates that our Ikigai can be found in activities that induce a state of being fully and delightfully immersed in what psychologists call “a state of flow.” Once you find your Ikigai there is no reason to retire from work. In fact, the Japanese do not even have a word for ‘retire’ and not retiring from the purpose of your life is a key factor in longevity and happiness. 

This fact is supported in my own family by my father who on being superannuated from the Indian Army in 1990 followed his own dream and worked tirelessly and selflessly while enjoying every minute of his existence. He also pursued his love for reading and dancing and socializing and contributing while inspiring his children and grandchildren to do the same. 

All of these were beacons of light to show me the path to my Ikigai as I set out to pursue my own Ikigai by running book clubs called “GLiterARTi’ and helping new authors bring their books to the reading public. The road to our dream is not difficult once we know our path and are focused on fulfilling our life’s purpose. My love for books is now a full-fledged business venture which offers content creation, book promotions and book-based workshops prompting me to ask you to probe deep into yourself and put your heart and soul into finding your own  Ikigai! 

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