IKIGAI IS THE NEW HYGGE
And Fika is the new Ikigai – more of that later. Hygge might be a Nordic concept but we all tried achieving a suitably snug state of being for 18 months. Perhaps we didn't actually spend more time with family or avoid the emotionally overwhelming aspects of day to day life, but we definitely watched more Scandi-noir, bought actual sheepskin and knitted wool slippers, candles and rugs, leafed through wood burning stove catalogues, and bought (if only ironically) those totally unproductive stuffed fabric reindeer heads.
When IKEA presented its Hygge Guide – 'Share good food with good friends (nesting tables $279)' – the gap between being and buying reached its apogee and the spiritually bereft among us started casting about, looking east, for a new set of rules.
Hence 2018 is all about Ikigai and this month's good read is Awakening Your Ikigai by Ken Mogi which introduces the basic principles. Ikigai is a Japanese way of seeing things, most simply explained as being a 'reason to get up in the morning' (and translating as reason to live) and you can never have too many of those.
By practicing Ikigai, says Mogi, we can 'wake up to joy'. The big themes are about focusing on the small, enjoying the details, sensory pleasures and the here and now. In time practitioners of Ikigai learn to release themselves from whatever old ways hold them back and find their flow which leads apparently to a more stress-free life.
The author Ken Mogi might be a neuroscientist but his book spells out a manner of going about things that, he says, "comes quite naturally for a Japanese, like the air we breathe”. This is a philosophy without accessories, it seems. The practical tips include getting up early, eating something sweet, paying attention to detail while making a cup of tea, and doing and thinking of nothing for 10 minutes when you feel dozy in the afternoon.
All seem eminently do-able but keep the book to hand just to remind yourself from time to time how simple being normal really is.
If you feel you have mastered Ikigai and are ready to embrace another life-enhancing Nordic state of being, La Donaira's art director, Camilla, who is Swedish, suggests Lagom (the Swedish art of living a happy, balanced life) but hearty recommends Fika, the practice of having coffee and cinnamon buns, cookies, cakes with someone twice a day, every day (at 11am and 3pm). Perhaps Fika is already the new Ikigai. Of course, you can already buy books on it.
Awakening Your Ikigai: How the Japanese Wake Up to Joy and Purpose Every Day by Ken Mogi. Published by The Experiment, January, 2018.