Sweet Spot

Since 2019 began, I embarked on a new quest on a not-so-new journey. I am now working towards a more balanced lifestyle which I have enough rest while also having enough time (the rest is so I also have enough energy) to pursue the meaningful things in life. If I haven’t been writing, it most likely means I am sleeping. 😀 I have just gotten a Fitbit so I can track the amount of sleep (rest! It actually tracks different stages of sleep) I get everyday. When issues are made conscious, it really is a first step to overcoming them.

Coincidentally, I was chatting with Senior M one evening about Ikigai. Well, I never really read deeply into it, nor have I thought very deeply into it, but I very extremely vaguely happilydappily shared about it sometime ago when I was in the sweetest spot of my life. We have different understanding and interpretation of that concept, and I suppose it is really normal, because I don’t think anyone has really grasped Ikigai, and it is something that we are all finding from our different paths and perspectives. I don’t want to call it seeking, because it is not something you seek, but rather find, as you get closer to it.

He also mentioned that there are people who translated it wrong and wrote all about it in their articles. Ooh, that was a wake up call and I immediately looked through my old post – ah-ha, fact check success – I knew I was not reading deeply enough so I did not even write about it but only put up a link on my old post! 😀 😀 HUGE PAT ON MY BACK.

Anyhow, I got curious and started reading into it, and well, what better way than by reading them from the perspective of natives! So I randomly read a few Japanese personal blogs and it seems like this concept was something made famous by non-natives, and most find it ironic because … how many Japanese in Japan are anywhere near the confluence of any of the two? I always thought they are very intense (imagine Salaryman concept), so I came to a preliminary conclusion (my wild guess, actually) that maybe it really is the framework to view the world and one’s own life in connection to the broader world. E.g. Craftsmanship – I find that focus (assuming Passion?) and the talent and the professionalism (which comes with the pay?? heh), and of course the quality that the world needs (that I need!!!).

Let’s just say my own life, since I know more about mine than the others’. What I love – I love reading, I love all things beautiful, I love talking to new people, I love learning about new things, I love understanding new cultures. What I am good at – I am good at digging out information, I am good at counselling people, I am good at managing people and work, I am good at human relations, I am good at making people feel better, I am good at helping see things in a “better” way, I am good at organising things. What the world needs – guess the world needs bigger hearts, people to help others open up and hence grow bigger hearts, and more socially and environmentally responsible initiatives, and more cultures to understand one another more, and people who can rebalance the power/poverty divide or at least seek to poke them in a better sliding scale. What I can be paid for – hahahaha the best part of it is that I have found the job(s) that pay me to do the above.

The sweet spot came from realising that one job cannot allow me to attain all of the above. I tried that with just plainly urban planning, and it did not work. So I took on volunteering work, and it still did not work (because I was not wearing the “correct” frames to view my work). So I took on hobbies, and it worked a little better. But that also mean I had to rebalance the financial aspect of things (hobbies can be expensive). I tried turning my hobbies into a business, but it .. ahem. failed pretty badly, because it is really not very productive as I enjoyed it so much I ended up spending too much time on it. 😀 So even spreading out the job(s) take some magic to get the right combination. Seriously, at the end of this longish blog, my conclusion is still that it boils right down to having the “correct” viewpoint of viewing what the heck we are doing. It is like “marketing my life to myself”. If you can manage to do so without any false marketing, then I think the sweet spot is there. I am constantly reframing the way I look at my life – if I see translation as just translation, it will forever be just a translation job. If I choose to see it as “oh yes, I get paid for reading and writing (which is my hobby)”, there you go! If I choose to see it as extending information to the cultures which did not have access or the awareness to the contents I am translating, there you go, another circle conquered! Teaching is a little different, because it generally comes with the “meaning” and “purpose” component attached already, especially with university education, it even comes with the “passion” aspect, and well, had it not come with the “paid adequately for it”, I would not be able to bring myself to fly there every week nor justify it to my business partner. Although “adequately” is really subjective, the “passion” part tilts the circle into the sweet spot of confluence.

Tada, so I am adequately in the ikigai zone. Now I just need to add in the circle of self-care and self-love to have enough sleep and rest, so as to remain happily and comfortably in that ikigai zone.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Somewhere on WP, I’ve written about “ikigai” before (maybe here?). Culturally, it’s a reach within the Japanese perception of a socially derived identity that really only emphasizes the aspect of “need” in terms of social or filial duty. I know it’s supposed to be more of an “Okinawan” ideal, and that makes a little more sense… but still a bit of a reach. Regardless, I don’t think such a idea can work for everyone, and that one shouldn’t feel frustrated or disappointed if that’s the case.

    For myself, I long ago concluded that finding that kind of center through a single exciting and fulfilling passion isn’t really possible… though that’s not to say that’s the case for everyone. But if I’m honest with myself, I’m just not talented enough to get paid for the things I love. However, a little self-discipline allows pay for other things that I am very good at. And that leaves the ability to pursue passions freely, and to contribute to the world in whatever ways are most rewarding. So even though there might not be any single “ikigai” thing in life, we can still find an overall satisfying sense of balance through a combination of any number of pursuits.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. leapingtoes says:

      Not here~ I couldn’t find anything else on my blog (nor yours) about ikigai…
      Cultural context is extremely interesting! I am now (very randomly) reading about KonMari-ing and there are so many types of (mis)interpretations because of the different cultural backgrounds looking at it. Nothing serious, just tonnes of really hilarious memes.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ennle Madresan says:

    “the world needs bigger hearts, people to help others open up and hence grow bigger hearts, and more socially and environmentally responsible initiatives, and more cultures to understand one another more”. This would be wonderful indeed, it is perhaps idealistic–you seem to have a very positive heart and mind, and I envy you that. Your blog is lovely–the photos of the children especially, and they, the children, are our future. Blessing to you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. leapingtoes says:

      Thank you!
      Guess my starting premise is a Chinese saying, “人之初 性本善” which means we are born fundamentally good in nature. So I am for the idea that we are all born good-hearted, thus by shedding away the “bad” conditionings we had picked up for whatever external reasons, we can open up and shine the better aspect of ourselves to the world. And then send the ripples out.


      1. Ennle Madresan says:

        Interesting…I didn’t know the Chinese held that belief.


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