IKIGAI, The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life is an International best seller written by Héctor García & Francesc Miralles on the studies of longevity in across the globe, but with a focus on Ogimi, a small village in Okinawa, Japan with the highest number of centenarians in the world. Diet, mental and physical exercise and a strong sense of
community are just some common attributes to a long life, but living with a sense of purpose, or IKIGAI, is the key.
There is an excerpt in the book that discusses resiliency and wabi-sabi (the acceptance of transience and imperfection).
Going through any change can create anxiety and understanding how to manage anxiety and stress, or how to build resiliency, is an important factor in pushing ahead.
The following excerpt resonated with me because it is an important question I ask my clients - and myself. I felt compelled to share:
"What's the worst thing that can happen?
We finally land our dream job, but after a while we are already hunting for a better one. We win the lottery and buy a nice care then then decide we can't live without a sailboat. We finally win the heart of the man or woman we've been pining for and suddenly find we have a wandering eye.
People can be insatiable.
The Stoics believed that these kinds of desires and ambitions are not worth pursuing. The objective of the virtuous person is to reach a state of tranquility (apatheia): the absence of negative feelings such as anxiety, fear, shame, vanity and anger, and the presence of positive feelings such as happiness, love, serenity and gratitude.
In order to keep their minds virtuous, the Stoics practiced something like negative visualization: They imagined the worst thing that could happen in order to be prepared if certain privileges and pleasures were taken from them.
To practice negative visualization, we have to reflect on negative events, but without worrying about them.
Seneca, one of the richest men in ancient Rome, lived a life of luxury but was, nonetheless, an active Stoic. He recommended practicing negative visualization every night before falling asleep. In fact, he not only imagined these negative situations, but actually put them into practice - for example, by living for a week without servants, or the food and drink he was used to as a wealthy man. As a result, he was able to answer the question, 'What's the worst thing that could happen?""
Fear of failure , fear of success, fear of the unknown and fear of what others may say or think are the most common reasons people hold themselves back from taking the next step towards a positive change.
I had one client who was afraid of creating a post on FB and Instagram in order to obtain clients because she was afraid nobody would "Like" it. I asked her,
Me: "What's the worst thing that could happen"?
Client: "Nobody will Like my post"
Me: "How many Likes do you have now?"
Me: "You have no likes because you haven't posted, it. So if you post it, what's the worst thing that could happen?"
Client: "I could get 100 likes"...
This is a clear example of the fear of failure and the fear of success. We only have control over the things we do for ourselves. We have no control over what action, reaction. thoughts or words others will have, so embrace your desires and put yourself out there for nobody but yourself. Be authentic. Believe in the possibilities. If you believe in yourself, others will start believing in you as well.
The next time you are feeling anxious over a decision you need to make, or a change you are forced into, take a deep breath and ask yourself, "what's the worst thing that could happen?".