Work to Live, Don’t Live to Work! 🌱 Lessons from Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life - PART 2

in life •  2 years ago  (edited)

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Oh baby! This is one I’ve been excited to write about, because there’s a clever bit of wordplay in this famous saying that I’d never picked up on until finishing the book we’re talking about in this series, IKIGAI: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life.

So, In case you missed it—Here’s The Plan…

Because there’s so much awesomeness to be absorbed I thought we’d split this up into 4 posts. They are as follows (unless I have a better idea and decide to ditch the format for something else… I’M A CREATIVE DAMNIT DON’T BOX ME IN!”)

This series is in no way meant to deter you from reading the book yourself. — I’d HIGHLY recommend grabbing it, cracking open a new notebook for your thoughts and giving it a read over the course of a week or so. You won’t regret it!

Work to Live, Don’t Live to Work!

Have you heard this one before? Maybe from a social media guru, or some stunning Instagram model who’s out on a freaking Wednesday afternoon taking selfies on some exotic beach. If that’s where you’ve heard it then, I get the eye-roll factor. I mean, that’s what I’d do. Sure great concept, but what about for the REST OF US ON PLANET EARTH WITH REAL LIVES.

For me, A close family friend, a woman who was like a second mother to me at the time noticed how stressed I was working my job in sales said it to me once. Her husband, an independent truck driver had barely scraped through the recession but was still able to support a family of 7! Even with all of the stress, over the years he had learned how to say “NO” to work, and sometimes even harder, mentally power down the work side of the brain at night and on weekends so he could be present with the family.

I’m not going to bore you with a post about saying no, or how tough it is to balance head-states in a healthy way when you work for yourself. I think everyone has their own pacing, and structure, and different folks work better at different frequencies. We all know how important balance is, but it’s up to you to get to know yourself well enough to know what works and what doesn't and then making the conscious choice to treat yourself nicely! DO IT! It’s so damn important.

To me, the meaning of Work to Live, Don’t Live to Work meant: Work enough to provide what you need to sustain yourself, and know when to call it quits. Which isn’t a bad assumption to make, but I’m realizing more and more that it’s only part of the story…

The Part I Missed…

As I mentioned in the last installment of this series, the writers of IKIGAI spent a lot of time researching the world’s Blue Zones (places in the world that have the highest average life expectancy). This research lead them to the Japanese village of Ogimi, a region within the island of Okinawa where residents enjoy the highest probability of becoming centenarians of anywhere in the world.

Not only do they reach and surpass triple digits, their quality of life, even at that age, is really quite remarkable. Okinawans are physically active, social, they have a great sense of humor and they love to throw celebrations! Who cares about reaching a certain age, if your quality of life is awful right?

Here’s my point. Almost all of them WORK! And they work until they physically can’t anymore. It’s almost as if retirement is seen as a form of accepting defeat in Japanese culture. Even after Okinawans retire from their trades or careers (in their 70s and 80s) they are still up early every morning, tending their gardens, volunteering for the community and organizing social events.

An awesome example of an incredible individual STILL working and innovating into his 80’s can be found in the documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi. If you’ve never seen it, check it out. Just be prepared for Sushi porn of the highest degree. You WILL salivate.

When I was a kid, overhearing adults talk at family gatherings, I always thought the goal was to STOP working as soon as possible… I’d hear things like…

“Oh did you hear, So-and-S0o is retiring at 40! I wish I had bought Google stock in the early days!”


“I wish I could just win the lottery so we could all retire and lay on a beach for the rest of our lives!*

It seems however that research about the earth’s longest living folks shows there's an important relationship between the vitality of the human body and mind and work! We NEED work to keep us alive! To keep up sharp, and active. Humans need a goal to chase, things to accomplish and to work toward.

So while "Living to Work", is certainly not the best strategy for happiness and wellness, I’m realizing that working to LIVE & stay alive is so so important!

It turns out, we’re not getting old because we’re tired, we start getting old when we stop working…

Coffee Talk: Working to Live longer, happier lives?- Not really a concept we have in the West- What do you think?

No matter what my financial state may be in the future, and even if I DID win the lottery, I can’t ever picture myself stopping working— there’s too much to be done in this life!


Until Next Time Friends!
<3 Dayleeo

Want More IKIGAI in your IKI-LIFE!?


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There are really some interesting points here and I'm excited for this four part piece. For me I have always thought that 'work' could be a relative word. If you work towards the 'work' you like then that is a goal I have always had. I have worked crazy hours at cafes at 5 am so that I could be done with work and get to my fun work, painting, gardening, chickens walks musuems etc. The active 'work' for my mind and spirit and I used the money 'work' for well money. And I just tightened my belt so I needed less of money work to equal more fun work. I ve always joked that I was a 90 year old woman since I was 10! All the things I like to do are that of a pottering old pensioner in her back garden taking tea breaks and watching the grass grow, so lower expectations from life probably makes goals easier too :)

Keep that life up, keep the strsss down to a minimum and eat right and I’m sure you’ll live well into your 90s if not beyond!

So smart living minimally in order to have the freedom to say no to work- I started my minimal journey a few years ago and I have to say I love it even though it can be hard at times 💕

Rooting for you girl!

You too. I think really just knowing what is important and MAKING the time for the important stuff and then 'work' out how to get by with the minimal amount of money for it all so that bit isn't all consuming. I'm really excited for your next pieces on this book! It also seems like many other Steemians have that sort of live free follow your dreams spirit, which is why I really like it around here. I have to force myself to go on Facebook to post a piece of art a day, that is getting to be work!

Thank you my dear! And you’re right we’re in good company here on steemit. Death to Facebook - long live steemit! 💕

most people think like that now, I see a lot of lessons in this book, I want to have it too

We got ours from maybe check out if it ships to your area, or they might even offer a digital verson :)- thanks for stopping by!

I think I got this info in a right moment! :D Thanks for posting. You don't know it, but you made my day :D

Oh man knowing that I may have had a part to play in some cosmic perfect timing for you makes my day! Cheers @dreamdiary ! 💕

Can't wait for new post, darling <3

Thanks! Looking forward to writing it!

I really like this :) I agree we definetely need a purpose. Which is why i have always hated those beach vacation. Just sitting by a pool an entire day sounds awful to me, drowning in said pool would likely be more fun. If a purpose can't wake up with a purpose, he or she will wither away, as it is no way to live

Haha I’m the SAME away. No thanks to rotting in the sun I’d much rather explore!!!- make that brain form new pathways every day right? :)

Yeah, exactly :D

I work because I want to these days. Not because some boss tells me I have to do so many hours a week. There is a huge difference. I think work keeps our minds active. That is the secret to longevity...

ABSOLUTELY! Need to rewire my brain to think about it that way- the point was never to be able to retire early! Its about doing what you love all along so you're not waiting for retirement