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Ikigai and finding joy in cleaning dishes. Ep 12


Todays episode was inspired by last weeks episode Bipolar ii life & embodying Bare Minimum Babe. Ep 11 where I discussed my latest depressive cycle and how leaning into the roles that I value in my life as a mother and wife helped me pivot that negative energy from boost myself and others up.

I realized that I was putting ikigai, the Japanese art of finding joy and purpose, into practice.

What is ikigai? 🇯🇵

Ikigai originated on the Okinawa Island in southern Japan, home to the largest number of centenarians in the world. Researchers believe that the secrets to their longevity is linked to ikigai (the word comes from iki meaning ‘life,’ and gai meaning ‘value’ or ‘worth’).

In the 2016, international bestseller Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life, Héctor García and Francesc Miralles interviewed more than one hundred Okinawans about their philosophy for a life well-lived. This is a great resource for those who are interested in learning more.

Ikigai is the magical intersection of:

  • what you love

  • what you’re good at

  • what the world needs more of

  • what you can get paid for

The main point in ikigai is that everyone has a purpose regardless of what it is. Every single person could fill this out and find their ikigai.

There is this idea that everyone has an ikigai or destiny to fulfill and that “over the years has been described using many different words and practices, but always hearkening back to the central core of meaningfulness in life.” — from Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life by Héctor García and Francesc Miralles

Because of this belief, and generally healthier eating and physical activity, the Okinawans remain active late into life, believing that if your ikigai is your job, there’s no reason to retire. And if they do retire, they remain active members of their communities which is important because then they remain social and continue to have purpose in their lives outside of themselves.

But what is MY ikigai? 🙋‍♀️

It’s rare that your ikigai is your profession, I know it wasn’t mine when I worked in digital marketing. Most people seem to find their ikigai in their hobbies/leisure and interpersonal relationships.

This might be why for me it’s helpful for me to lean into the roles that I value in my life as a mother and wife.

“Our ikigai is different for all of us, but one thing we have in common is that we are all searching for meaning. When we spend our days feeling connected to what is meaningful to us, we live more fully; when we lose the connection, we feel despair.” – from Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life by Héctor García and Francesc Miralles

Hashtag YOLO #️⃣

It’s also important to point out that the Okinawans also prioritize living in the moment, viewing past hardships as a necessary part of their journey to the here and now and what further leads to ikigai.

Finding your purpose and motivation or ikigai can feel overwhelming, I know it feels that way at least for me…

However, ikigai is also about appreciating the small joys in your daily life. Making time for little moments of happiness in the day, and integrating things you enjoy into your daily routine.

“Ikigai is the action we take in pursuit of happiness.” — Yukari Mitsuhashi, author of Ikigai: Giving Every Day Meaning and Joy

Which is what I think it the useful part at least for me, especially like in last weeks episode where I struggled in a depressive cycle of bipolar ii and everything just felt blah and nothing matters.

Hustle Culture, Mental Health, and Ikigai 🧠

Hustle gurus used to make me feel poorly, especially while in a depressive episode.

All that hustle and follow your dream stuff just irritates me and I feel totally disconnected. It only reinforces that I’m going to fail because sometimes it takes everything just to find the positive energy for interacting with my daughter and husband and to finish the laundry.

And I’m actually able to feel pretty okay about this bare minimum until I go on social media and see an Instagram post, pinterest image, or YouTube hype up video of some very excited dude talking to the camera about how you can’t stop and you gotta chase after it or some fitspo blonde woman telling me how she never stopped grinding and if I buy her course I can also make passive income so I can lay out in the sun on the beach.

Number 1, this is stupid; number 2 this could injure people….just saying Michelle.

I’m not mad at this random woman or the dude shouting into the camera about why I should be hustling and choosing positivity, why should I be? Maybe it does work for some people.

I know at least for me though when I see that kind of content it can make me feel extra trash. What helps me is to think that maybe she didn’t “feel” the quote she was posting in that moment either and that’s why it reads as an eyeroll moment for me.

Maybe she felt she had to post it because it’s her brand or the social media’s algorithm demanding it. I might be projecting onto them but all I know is that it makes me feel better to think that maybe they’re having a bad day too or at least have bad days sometimes (because of course they do as a human).

I felt fine before I saw that triggering post so why should seeing it make me feel differently? It shouldn’t.

While I don’t want to “should” on myself or you, picturing that this person has a perfect life and is happy all the time just can’t possibly be true. Reminding myself of this makes me feel better because I feel less special in my depressive state that I’m the only one suffering.

Finding joy in cleaning the dishes 🚰

Circling back to the little joys. I used to be annoyed that nobody else would do certain things in the house or help with school activities but I realized recently that it doesn’t make sense to be annoyed by things that need to be done if I want to live in a mostly happy and stress-free home.

Does it make sense to keep getting irritated that there’s always dirty dishes after dinner? We just ate dinner so there will obviously be some sort of mess to clean up. Why would I get irritated about a fact of life that repeats every day? I just need to clean and reset the kitchen for the next meal.

And once I accept this as a needed fact of living a happy life in my home then I can clean the dishes without any negative feelings. I can feel good that I’m creating a clean and easy foundation for tomorrow’s meal.

That’s ikigai at work with the little stuff in life.

Are you saying NOT to go after big goals? 🤔

No. What I’m saying is that this approach has helped me be more accepting of the things that need done. It’s helped me to reframe how the little things I do make a positive impact, no matter how small, on my life and the lives of others around me.

The hustle culture that is idolized is the opposite of this approach allowing people to live to 100 years old. You’re valuable as a person. You’re more than what you can create, achieve, build, etc. You can do, build, and create great things, but you’re already valuable just being you. (Cheesy I know 🧀)

But the little things aren’t sexy…👙

Is cleaning the dishes a super sexy party time? Not really…but it needs done. People show highlight reels on social media, over coffee meetings, and literally anywhere they interact with another human being. It’s social posturing. They don’t want to look like a loser and admit that they’re struggling because that could decline their social status. They also don’t post pictures of them cleaning dishes. That doesn’t mean they don’t do it…

Those highlight reels can and will make you feel trash about yourself in any number of ways that you might not have felt trash had you not seen their reels if you let it. It’s okay to feel that every now and then but overall keep in mind that even the most glamorous success stories has those terrible down parts and aspects that they hated as well. We’re all living our purpose. And your purpose is not to feel like trash. I promise you.

Ignore those reels and realize that not everything is sexy and Instagramable, but it needs done. Get back to washing those dishes. Ikagi, baby.

Challenge for You! 🥳

Picture a chore you hate doing. Ask yourself: What is the purpose of this chore? Does it need to be done? And does it need to be done by me?

If it needs to be done and it needs to be done by me, then should I keep wasting energy feeling irritated or should I just accept it as a fact of life? If I accept it as having a purpose, will that make me feel like I’m serving a purpose? Can that make me and others around me feel good?

Cliff Notes 🧗🏻‍♂️

Hustle culture wants you to believe that if you’re not grinding towards something then you should question your value. That’s bullsh*t. Just cleaning the dishes or having a positive interaction with a family member can have a major impact on you and the others around you. And some things might not be instagrammable or sexy but they need done.

Discussed in this episode:

  • how the Japanese concept of ikigai can help you feel more positive and purposeful

  • you have value as a human being, not just in what you’re able to produce for the world

  • accepting things that need to be done and finding peace in that saves a lot of wasted negative energy

  • everyone has struggles because it’s a fact of being a human

Mentioned in this episode:

Where to Listen:


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