Why do we get up every morning? This is a question we all consider at certain points in our lives. We may have work, family, or other obligations, or we simply may feel rested and ready to start the day. But where is that passion in your gut, the fire in your heart, the sparkle in your eye, that brings you forward into the day?
This is something I have always pondered but finally took as my life’s mission almost 10 years ago. Finding my purpose, or as the Japanese call it, my ikigai, consumed me as I searched for the reason I had made my life decisions: why I went to work, why I exercised, why I was drawn to the same hobbies my entire life, and why certain studies drew me in. The search began one morning when I woke up, drove to work, and realized my life had become very routine. Sleep—work—sleep during the week; errands and such on the weekends. It was a lifestyle that had suddenly become unsustainable. There was a voice inside me that was growing louder and more insistent, asking simply, “Why?”
Ikigai is, in basic terms, the reason we get up in the morning. It is about finding passion, purpose, and practicality all at the same time. Ikigai is your reason to live, your purpose, from a spiritual perspective but grounded in everyday life.
Explore Your Essence
While I believe we all have a purpose here, I also believe it is not necessarily in the label we assign to ourselves (wife, mother, lawyer, doctor, etc.). Rather, it is how we show up in the world. As energetic, spiritual beings, what essence do we bring forth? And how do we do that in a practical, grounded way?
When I realized it wasn’t what I did at my job that I enjoyed but rather how I did my job, how I led and inspired others, mentoring and coaching for staff members and colleagues, the pieces started to fall together. It calls to mind the quote, “People will not remember what you did, but they will remember how you made them feel.”
The Path and the Process
How do we get to this space, though? It is a process, one that I have been working through for years and that continues to unfold. With each step, the path is a bit clearer. Many techniques and practices contribute to the unfolding: mindfulness, meditation, conscious awareness, and self-compassion, all supported by modalities that bring us closer to our authentic selves, our essence, our soul. Practices that ebb and flow with time, constant learning and self-discovery, and approaching the day with curiosity and openness all widen and help clear the path to ikigai.
This is the work that fulfills me, not only within myself but with all of my clients. There is a common thread; we are all seeking meaning and purpose. It does not have to be grand, but we all search for something to carry us through the times in our lives when we need to dive deep and keep going, and the times that are full of joy and hope. Finding your ikigai takes honesty, courage, patience, and awareness. It is the journey of our lives and the breath of our soul.
Ordained by One Spirit Interfaith Seminary and as a certified Interspiritual Counselor, I currently offer spiritual coaching and creativity sessions in person in my Bethany office, as well as by phone and Zoom.