As Women we can realize in Midlife that our true purpose is much different than the life we have been leading. We may have been very successful in our career or in our designated roles. But Midlife is the time to make sure our successes have been for us, and we are not fulfilling someone else’s expectations. In this episode, listeners will discover- or perhaps- rediscover- what in their middle years is whispering for them to complete, while they still have time. How can they make a difference? What ideas resonate as both personal, and those that may also serve the greater good?
Ikigai – What’s Your Calling
What gets you out of bed each morning? The Japanese have a word for this called Ikigai, roughly translated as ones purpose, or “reason for being”. According to the Japanese, everyone has a hidden Ikigai and often it requires some deep soul searching to find it.
It’s that healthy passion for something that we can deeply contribute to. Finding your Ikigai is increasingly important in Midlife, as it will contribute to our overall Longevity.
Several years ago National Geographic asked the question, What is the secret to longevity? They decided to travel the world looking for some plausible reasons.
The answers were found in only a few places on the earth where people lived extraordinary long lives. One such place was in Japan, on the island of Okinawa, where the men and women are among the worlds longest lived people. Elders enjoy their later years free from many of the diseases plaguing North Americans.
The reason? Diet, for sure and Ikagai, the sense of purpose to one’s life. Whatever makes your life worth living, is your Ikigai.
As we continue soul searching for clues, we playfully draw what we do know, to discover where our Ikigai lies.
Draw four intersecting circles. One circle is for PASSION. One circle is for POWER. One circle is for PURPOSE. And the last circle is for PLAY.
Think about how these individual circles, that which you are good at, that which the world needs, that which you can be paid for, and that which you love intersect. That area of intersection is IKIGAI!
What’s Your Thing?
What’s your thing? The thing that makes your heart stop or start. The thing that takes your breath away or makes you breathe harder. The thing that brings a smile to your face or a tear to your eye or both.
Recently, welcoming my sister’s fifth grandbaby, my great nephew, I felt it. It was the cracking open of my heart to a new love. It brought both a smile and tears. The intensity of it was undeniable.
I feel a like version of this when I pass my now grown son in the hallway while I am occupied thinking of something else and suddenly I come into the moment and I wonder, “Who’s that man?” When I realize it’s him, a feeling of warm satisfaction that he is healthy and safe and brilliantly doing his own thing washes over me.
These are moments when I am reminded that I live through my heart, not my head. The experience of my heart opening, or being touched, is an emotional, not an intellectual, experience. Understanding that my happiness lives in my body, that I feel best when I am living whole heartedly, comes when I step out of my day to day routine for these amazing moments.
These experiences that I have described engage a part of me that feels ageless and out of time. It has been with me as long as I can remember, and ,although it has grown older ,it has not aged, a space, out of time and timeless.
In his book The Mind-Body Code, Dr. Mario Martinez notes that his studies of healthy centenarians confirm that they defy cultural perceptions about aging by remaining creative, flexible, persevering, and resilient. By confronting, releasing and replacing negative emotions with what Dr. Martinez refers to as “exalted emotions”, like empathy, compassion, gratitude, joy, these individuals have remained healthy beyond 100 years of age. He notes that they move beyond time by shifting their mindset from passing time to engaging space.
When looking for your purpose, look for something that takes you into exalted emotion, and thus into a timeless space. It is one of those things–you will know when you feel it. It cannot be seen from the outside, except by the excited way in which you approach or talk about it.
The time for practicality is done. So many of our decisions in our young life are made of necessity or of planning for some objective or feeling to be realized or felt in the future. This midlife is the time of the life to feel all of who you are, and to act from that. Of course, culturally, this is not acceptable. Women in midlife are expected to be closing down physically, spiritually, and emotionally. You might experience resistance, particularly if you have never put your feelings first, and even more so if you have never allowed yourself to even feel your exalted feelings. When looking for your pro social purpose, look for the thing that brings you some sense of these good feelings and serves others. That’s your thing, and in turn the thing that will help the world.