I read an article lately about the Japanese concept of ‘ikigai’ and how it stacks up to the concept of happiness. In Japan, there are many words that could loosely be translated back to ‘happy’ but Ikigai (and don’t ask me how to pronounce it) translates to “that which makes life worth living” or simply, 'having a meaningful purpose in life'. The article questioned whether happiness was too lofty a goal, and perhaps our constant striving for happiness was in itself, self-destructive.
I think a lot about purpose, and I love this definition: Purpose is waking up in the morning knowing you’re on the right path, regardless of what other people say.
When I was 39, I had everything I ever wanted – 3 great kids, and a successful knock-it-out-of-the-park career. I’d found purpose in my work with the homeless, and I was my own boss – but I still felt as if something was missing.
I burned through self-help books looking for answers, when I didn’t even know what the question was. But I knew I wanted to experience something radical to shake things up. That soul-seeking journey led me to California, where I checked in for 2 weeks at Chopra University – Deepak Chopra’s new-age whole health retreat. Can I just say, I had no idea what I was in for!
Two weeks of quiet introversion – and even a period of enforced greasy hair – gifted me the calm to realize I’d been living too fast, and I was consumed with checking off life's boxes. Chopra’s methodology taught me while I was so busy being overly productive and making sure I was pleasing everyone else, that I rarely ever checked in with myself. That alone was worth the price of admission.
We listen to opinions all day long – unconsciously, and consciously. People with good intentions want to tell us how we should do things, or how we should feel, think, and act. It’s scary to disagree or go in a different direction when you are a ‘people pleaser’.
While I was in California, I learned the biggest sense of purpose for me is connection. Once I started connecting to others more deeply, a few things happened. Judgement disappeared. And conversations had more meaning.
Some of the lessons I try to follow are:
If you want love from people… then love people. If you want more money… then help people make money. If you want more joy in life… then give joy to others.
The more we can give, while enjoying the process, the more we’re going to love our lives.
Last week I was awarded the Diamond Elite status by company Engel & Völkers. As we all know, 2020 was not the easiest workplace environment for anyone – so to be recognized for my real estate achievements during a global pandemic was rather nice. I sat in my sweats, eating a burger, as I watched my name and my beloved city of Halifax flash across the virtual ceremony’s screen – and I admit to feeling quite proud. It wasn’t so much about the sales and the glory, as the way I was able to help people find a place to call home in very turbulent times.
Living your true purpose – that’s where the happiness is. And helping others brings me joy. My family bring me joy. My dog brings me joy. This pandemic has been a life lesson that has challenged all of us. And it’s been hard to find purpose and meaning when touching your face is suddenly life threatening, but it’s just a very big pothole on this journey with my sidekick, ‘ikigai’.
My life is valuable and I am making an impact. Tell yourself that every once in a while.
Someday I’ll look at my Diamond Elite award plaque, and I’ll forget about the gallons of hand sanitizer and smiling through a mask, and just think about how lucky I was to have a purpose.