Ikigai (Japanese): reason for being


It’s been a lifelong question of mine (and probably everyone else in the world at some point): why am I here? Not in an emo, despairing “what is the meaning of life” way, more of an “OKAY LIFE I’M HERE I’M READY WHAT DO I GOTTA DO TO MAKE MY EXISTENCE COUNT FOR SOMETHING?”

I know I’m here for something. Maybe I’ll find the cure for cancer (not likely tbh—I haven’t read a Biology book in the past year). Maybe I’ll be the first person to step foot on Mars (um not likely either—the Americans are totally on it). Maybe my child will be a prodigy.


What am I here for? My days go by in a whirl of classes, meetings, hangouts…it’s crazy to see how time goes by so fast. And when I look back on my days, I go “Hmm…it was a good day!” but how much of it was spent meaningfully?

I’m not gonna turn this blog post into a self-criticizing session, no no. I have tons of things I wish I did differently, but we humans aren’t a species of great multitasking capabilities (despite our insistent opinion that we are). So I guess this is me giving myself tiny tips on how to live fuller, more meaningful days. Hope it helps (me and you both).

  1. Focus.

I know this for a fact: I am scattered all over the place. I am actually pretty amazed that I have written so much for this post already—and I’m only so focused on this because I’m supposed to be doing something else but the WiFi’s down!

In any given moment, there’s so many options for me to choose from. I could be eating lunch right now. Or daydreaming. Or reading an article (I do this a lot, jump from article to article, anything that catches my fancy. Yet another reason to practice focus.). Knowing this gives me a buzzing feeling inside, as if I’m a bee eager to GET ALL DAT NECTAR. But what happens is while I’m stopping on this daisy, I’m already thinking that maybe it would be more worth my time to check out that tulip over there. It’s a serious lack of respect for the task at hand, and the task at hand is almost never completed or done well.

If you watched me at my work table, you’d see me journaling for 2 minutes, picking up my phone to check my to-do list, then shooting off a few texts cause my to-do list asked me to, then me running my hand through my hair cause I just remembered I have so much to do omg then I’d shake my head sober and come back to my journal, then someone would knock and OF COURSE I GOTTA ENTERTAIN THEM! People are my priority yo! See what I mean? I feel stressed just typing about it!

That’s why I think practicing deep focus is one thing that would benefit me a lot. I’ve tried it, and it greatly increased my productivity—things going zwoop zwoop zwoop into my ‘done’ compartment instead of half done things spread out on my table, and me with a smile on my face that says “I got this” 🙂

Wow ok I just got distracted by my phone again woohoo

I think a good thing to bear in mind when starting to practice focus is that it isn’t easy! So I’m not gonna judge myself when I slip up—all I gotta do is get back on track to the task at hand! And also I have ways to make it easier for me to focus—close the door, switch my phone to airplane mode, go to the park, the library…there’s so many ways we can help ourselves if we put our mind to it!

  1. If it’s not a HELL YEAH, say no

This is a big thing for me when it comes to deciding how to spend my time. Often I just let myself go with the flow, opting for the majority’s choice. Sometimes it ends up being a fun time spent with friends, other times it becomes a slack session where we just sit around and scroll through our newsfeeds.

What I’d like to be able to do is practice mindful choices of how my time will be spent. I used to (still do tbh) make to-do lists and plans and schedules but somehow those always bring me a sense of dread and rigidity. (They help some people though! Love reading those bullet journal things that are all over tumblr.)

So next time I’m stuck between hmm homework or hangout? I’ll slow down to figure out which is the best for me at that moment! If doing B will leave my mind stuck on A, maybe I gotta get A out of the way first by finishing it!

Ooh but sometimes when I think about this too much, I experience decision fatigue. SO MANY OPTIONS YAKNOW?? And I just end up opening and closing the fridge looking for something to eat.

Which is another way this Hell Yeah vs No thing applies to my life! I’m a pretty health conscious person I’d say? But I also have one hell of a sweet tooth. I struggle(d?) with orthorexia and binge eating (damn this is so scary to admit. I’ve never actually said this to anyone.), where I swing between stressing out about preparing healthy meals for myself and eating everything in sight. SO LIKE YEAH! I feel like being able to discern whether something is ‘Hell YEAH” worthy or not is also pretty useful when it comes to food choices. Like umm do I really want to eat that donut? Or am I buying it just because it’s Instagrammable?

Hehe. I like thinking like this to be honest. The “Hell Yeah” aspect of it makes what I agree on feel all the more exciting, and the firm “No” is just so empowering!!

  1. What’s the BEST that could happen?

Ok so I’m coming back to writing this after a couple of weeks haha woops got distracted again! But yeah I finally got the illustration for this post done and I’m excited to share it!

I just read through what I’d written before and okay to be honest I kinda cringed a little cause who doesn’t cringe when they hear their voice on recording or read their words written a couple weeks ago, right? Especially with all the random capitalization, woo boy.

BUUUt that’s a perfect example for my third point! I’m still writing cause I love it, and maybe, the best thing that could happen is that someone will come across this who loves it too! I like thinking this way instead of “What’s the worst that could happen?” cause the possibility thinking really opens up my imagination in cool ways!

“Dwelling in possibility can be one of the most exciting ways to spend your time.” (omg I rly rly wanna cite this quote but I forgot where I read it ._.)

I think ikigai is more than just a reason to wake up in the morning–it’s also the reason we go to bed with a smile at night, like my illustration here hehehe


Anyway, I think that’s all for today!

Hasta la vista! ❤