Ikigai and how you can find happiness in life

by Gladys van Velse on June 16, 2022

Time flies by and before you know it you’ve been doing something you wished you changed years ago. Maybe back then it didn’t feel like the right time or maybe you thought you were already late to the party. So why start now? Why would you leave your comfort zone? We get it, it’s scary. But let me ask you a question: isn’t it more scary if you never found your true happiness in life?

Let me tell you a little story…

For as long as she can remember Gladys P.Nut was drawing. On everything and all kinds of cute things. However, as expected, she went to get her degree and found a “proper” job in an IT consultancy. But her love for kawaii never left her. In business meetings, she felt out of place. Not only, because she was the only one in a hoodie and with a fluffy, feathered pen, but she felt unattached. Like, life was happening, and she was doing everything that was expected of her, but it wasn’t her life.

Shaking things up

After Gladys experienced a burnout, she decided to shake things up. 

Quitting her job was the best first step she took. Step two was closing herself off for a full month, just to think, draw and create without any plans, deadlines or outside influences. Her family was quite shocked by her choices and were surprised that she quit the stability of her job. Not everyone was supportive at first, but Gladys P.Nut decided to use that energy and turn it into something positive; this was how her CutieSquad was born. Every single family member became a kawaii character and she turned their “negative” traits into a fun part of their characters. It made Gladys P.Nut stronger, and she was able to create something light and bright in a sea of negativity. 

Match your life and purpose

It was never about finding the dream job. In the first place, it was always about finding true happiness. To find happiness Gladys started discovering what her purpose in life is or as the Japanese call it: ikigai. Ikigai is “iki” (life) and “gai” (value or worth). It’s about finding joy in life through purpose. In other words, your ikigai is what gets you up every morning, keeps you going and makes you happy. Gladys P.Nut noticed that she could get out of bed again because she didn’t have to go to an office and ‘role-play a corporate exec’ but could just spend her days drawing, creating and seeking inspiration. Her love for kawaii and her creativity is the perfect match for her to live her life with real purpose. 

Finding your ikigai

Finding your ikigai is not easy; it’s about thinking and reassessing what you do and what you love. It’s about discovering your passion, your personal drive and incorporating this in your everyday life. You don’t have to quit your job (you might not like) as Gladys did, you can also find a hobby that fulfils you. Ikigai is not about finding your dream job, though it can be if you want, it’s just about doing what you love and doing it as often as you can. Whether that’s running through the forest early in the morning before you start your day, to purposefully raising your family or from cooking a new recipe every week. But how do you know what you love, how do you know what truly makes you happy? 

Questions you can ask yourself:

  • What gets you up every morning?
  • What keeps you going?
  • What makes you happy?
  • Do the answers of the first 3 questions align with the life you want to live? 

Yes, then go you! You found what makes you happy!

If the answer is no, that’s also okay. We have some tips that can help you:

  • Try out new things.
  • Be more in the moment and aware of your place and surroundings. 
  • Try to get rid of elements that block you in finding your ikigai. 
  • Make sure that you create the time to seek your purpose, mentally and physically. 

 Again, you don’t have to quit your job and close yourself off for a month as Gladys P.Nut did. But make an effort. Try something new, change your daily routine and make more conscious choices. Only then you open yourself up to finding your own ikigai.