What is Ikigai?

On a recent Facebook Live video I shared all about Ikigai– what it is, why it’s important to us as individuals who aim to live happy, healthy lives, and its importance to us as moms!

Below is a synopsis of the Live Video with a link to check out the video too!


So as you know If you’ve been following my social feeds, I’m talking about Ikigai today. You’re probably wondering ‘What is Ikigai?’ ‘Why do I need this to survive, I don’t even know what the heck it is?’ Keep listening and I’ll let you know.

If you’re new to seeing me on social media, my name is Erin Wiebe. I’m a naturopathic doctor who is very passionate about helping to empowering moms to find their spark again so that as they raise happy healthy children they can emerge as happy, healthy moms as well. I believe wholeheartedly that we can be dedicated, energetic, loving mothers, and authentic, healthy, purposeful women.

So, Ikigai.

I actually want to start by reading an excerpt from one of my all-time favourite books. I actually consider it a very important reference book for me now and I haven’t finished it because I keep coming back to the material I’ve already read because there’s just so much depth there. It’s called The Happiness Equation by Neil Pasricha. I’m going to read a short except for you so grab your tea, sit back and relax, and enjoy.

“Former Esquire editor, Martha Sherrill said, “I often think about dogs when I think about work and retirement. There are many breeds of dogs that just need to be working, and useful, or just have a job of some kind in order to be happy. Otherwise, they are neurotically barking, scratching, or tearing up that sofa. A working dog needs to work, and I am a working dog.“

I’m going to stop for a second, and I’m going to read you a little bit more but, when I’m talking about work in this context, I’m speaking to moms and I want you to think about your work as a mom and your work outside of the home as well.

“So what kind of dog are you? If you like thinking, if you like trying, if you like creating, if you like teaching, if you like learning, if you like connecting then chances are good you’re a working dog too. And what do working dogs do? They work. They never give up. They never stop doing. They never retire.”

Retirement. The retirement that I am talking about is at the end of our parenting duties, when our children are 18, they move out of the house, they get their first job, they go to college—that’s kind of what I’m thinking of when it comes to retirement from motherhood. We’re still mothers, we still have children that we still love and nurture, but it’s a very different relationship when our kids kind of reach 18-ish and kind of move on and do their own thing. So, what happens to us when we are working dogs, when we’re moms, when we’re used to being moms and then we ‘retire’ because our kids are 18 and they’ve grown up and they go off and do their own thing?  What happens to our jobs as parents? We essentially retire. Even if our kids stay home and we still feed them and we still provide shelter, that time where we are responsible for the survival of  our children and for raising our children to be emotionally competent members of society, that part of our job is done. What happens then to us? And the ultimate thing I want to ask you is, do you have a purpose when that time comes?
Sit with that for a moment.

I want to talk to you now about blue zones. I think by now most people know what blue zones are. They’ve sort of been discovered or talked about in the last probably decade or more, but they are 5 geographical locations where people live statistically longer than the rest of the world.  So I’m going to name those places and hopefully I don’t butcher the names;
Okinawa, Japan.
Sardinia, Italy.
Nicoya, Costa Rica.
Ikaria, Greece.
Loma Linda, California within the 7th Day Adventists.

In those five geographical areas those people are known to live statistically longer. They’ve studied why they live longer; what practices do they partake in that allows them to live longer. Some of the lifestyle practices that these people partake in are; moderate, regular physical activity, stress reduction, moderate calorie intake, a plant based diet, moderate alcohol intake, engagement in spiritual or religious practices, engagement in family life, and engagement in social life. AND Life Purpose.

Purpose. That is what I want to talk about with you today.
What is your purpose or your Ikigai?

Ikigai is actually a term that is something that the Okinawa people in Japan use, and a rough translation would be, ‘It’s the reason you wake up in the morning.’ The Okinawa people are known to live, on average, 7 years longer than the average American. And part of that is because they have purpose and they don’t retire. They live within community and they engage with that community and they don’t look at a time after that purpose, that IS their purpose. There isn’t a retirement period. So, for the people that live longer, Ikigai, or purpose, is essential to living longer. That’s one reason why we need to have Ikigai, or purpose.

I have another thing to share, and it is a bit morbid, so I apologize for that. But it is an important component of what I want to talk about and it’s this phenomenon that.. This seems to happen occasionally, I have read about it, I have talked to people who know of other people to which it has happened, and this is when people retire, they pass away, or they struggle with a life-changing or a life-altering medical condition like a heart attack or a stroke that either takes their life or leaves them very unwell after retirement. And I’m talking retirement, you know, after a young age like 65. And this tends to happen when people attach their purpose and their Ikigai so tightly to their career so that when their career is over or they retire, they no longer have a sense of purpose. And, in some people, it actually costs them their lives.

So, why am I talking about all this? What does this have to do with being a mom? And I want you to think about career and work, and find parallels with motherhood—that all of this relates to us as moms. And I’m not saying that your risk of death increases after your children leave home, but the parallel that I’m trying to draw here is that when our children leave home part of us does transform.  Do you feel like you have the pieces in place to help get you through that transformation?
Do you have an Ikigai?
Are you someone who will continue to live out your purpose after your children leave, or do you feel withered? Do you feel like it takes a piece of you with it, or do you blossom during that time?

The idea is, do you have a purpose outside of being a mom or being a parent?

If you know what I’m talking about, if you have a purpose, I would love for you to leave a comment! Tell me what your purpose is outside of motherhood!
Ignite a spark within all of us! Inspire us! I’d love to hear your comments.
And I’d like to leave you with a challenge:
Get a card, like a white piece of stock paper, and write your Ikigai on a card and put it beside your bed. Because Ikigai means your purpose or your reason for waking up in the morning, every morning I want you to see that Ikigai beside you.
As moms, number one is going to be your children. You are going to wake up because of your children—whether it’s because it’s 4am they’re up and you don’t really want to be up, or you’re just so motivated to see them, you miss them, you want to hug them again. That’s always going to be number one. I’m not saying that our children shouldn’t be a very big part of our purpose. What I am saying is that we need to have something else with us that gets us up in the morning. So that’s your challenge.

Number 2: On that page, on that paper, or on that card, name an Ikigai that lights you up! That ignites your spark! That fulfills your purpose on this planet in this life.

So number one is your children and number two… what is it?
Do you know what it is? It’s very important that you do because as I’ve sort of outlaid earlier, we need Ikigai to survive. We need Ikigai, we need purpose, to live longer,  we need it to survive, to live, so that we don’t wither after our children leave home. We need to set the stages when our children are younger so that we can blossom during that time. We can blossom while we have kids, while we’re raising children and after. Like I said, that I believe we can be authentic, purposeful, healthy moms as well. So having a purpose, having an Ikigai is really important for that.

I really want you to focus on that challenge this week. Get that piece of white cardstock, name your purpose. Like I said, number one is your children, number two is you—what is your purpose, what lights you up, why do you wake up in the morning for yourself?

Maybe an example would be helpful…
Let’s say you like being creative. Going back to that part in the book I was reading where you are a working dog if you like to create. Maybe you like to take photos and you just don’t take time go out and take the kinds of photos you want. Maybe that’s your Ikigai for this week; to go out and get some photos and get them printed, get them on the wall, whatever motivates you. It’s not tasks that need to get done, it’s something that actually ignites a spark within you.

Your Ikigai doesn’t have to be the same thing every week. Maybe for a while it’s get out there and take some pictures. Maybe it changes because you have another thing on the go. Neil Pasricha said for a time his Ikigai was to finish his book. So it changed for him once his book was finished. Even as our children grow up that’s going to change and evolve as we evolve and change and transform and blossom. So don’t think that it just has to be one thing. It can be many different things and that can change.

So this whole idea of Ikigai, this whole idea of Purpose really makes me passionate and really gets me excited which is why I’ve created my 4-week online coaching program for moms to help them regain energy so that they have the energy that they need to raise their children and fulfill their Ikigai in life so that they can survive and thrive and not just wither away or just not feel fulfilled or blossom in this life.

Everyone has a purpose.
Obviously, number one is raising our children to be emotionally competent and loving people who will transform the world.
But we also need to be looking after ourselves and fulfilling our own purpose.

So please join me on this journey! I will leave a link in the comments for my 4-week program. The registration application forms are there. If you are interested I would love to have you join me and please leave a comment.

Anyways, thank you so much for joining me! I really appreciate you taking the time today to be with me during this time and we will see you again soon!
Take care, everyone! Have a great weekend!


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