Transcript: Ikigai

Intermediate (B1-B2)
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✅Key Vocabulary:
Centenarian (Noun) - Synonyms: Person living over a hundred years (Centenario / Столетний / معمّر / Centenaire / Yüz yaşını geçmiş kişi / Người trăm tuổi)

Navigate (Verb) - Synonyms: Plan a route, Direct (Navegar / Навигировать / توجيه / Naviguer / Yol bulmak / Điều hướng)

Ideology (Noun) - Synonyms: System of beliefs, Set of ideas (Ideología / Идеология / أيديولوجية / Idéologie / İdeoloji / Ý thức hệ)

Merge (Verb) - Synonyms: Combine, Unite (Fusionar / Сливать / دمج / Fusionner / Birleştirmek / Kết hợp)

Consultant (Noun) - Synonyms: Advisor, Expert who gives advice (Consultor / Консультант / استشاري / Consultant / Danışman / Cố vấn)

Gratitude (Noun) - Synonyms: Thankfulness, Appreciation (Gratitud / Благодарность / امتنان / Gratitude / Minnettarlık / Lòng biết ơn)

Incorporate (Verb) - Synonyms: Integrate, Include (Incorporar / Включать / دمج / Intégrer / Dahil etmek / Kết hợp vào)

Determine (Verb) - Synonyms: Decide, Ascertain (Determinar / Определить / تحديد / Déterminer / Belirlemek / Xác định)

Bliss (Noun) - Synonyms: Pure happiness, Joy (Felicidad pura / Блаженство / نعيم / Félicité / Mutluluk / Hạnh phúc tinh khiết)

Vocation (Noun) - Synonyms: Career path, Profession (Vocación / Призвание / مهنة / Vocation / Meslek / Nghề nghiệp)

Reinvent (Verb) - Synonyms: Remake, Transform into something new (Reinventar / Переизобрести / إعادة ابتكار / Réinventer / Yeniden icat etmek / Tái tạo)

Longevity (Noun) - Synonyms: Long life, Durability (Longevidad / Долголетие / طول العمر / Longévité / Uzun ömür / Tuổi thọ)

Principles (Noun) - Synonyms: Fundamental truths, Basic beliefs (Principios / Принципы / مبادئ / Principes / Prensipler / Nguyên tắc)

Rejuvenated (Adjective) - Synonyms: Revitalized, Refreshed (Rejuvenecido / Омоложенный / مُجدّد / Rajeuni / Gençleştirilmiş / Trẻ hóa)

Calories (Noun) - Synonyms: Units of energy, Nutritional energy measure (Calorías / Калории / سعرات حرارية / Calories / Kaloriler / Calo)


Hello, hello friends. Welcome back to the Simple English Listening Podcast with your same old host, Tristan. If you're looking to level up your English skills, your listening skills, and learn about interesting topics, the wider world at the same time, you're in the right place.

Here, I speak in simpler English, interesting and mind-bending. Mind-blowing ideas, but in simplified English for intermediate students. 55% of the whole internet is in English. And one inspiration for this podcast is to help people access different ideas, ideas that are more International, more global ideas, outside of their language culture, which can sometimes be a very small population.

And today's topic is about one of these ideas. I'm sure if you know Japanese, you also might know a bit about this topic, but today we will try to explain it in simplified English. Today, we will talk about ikigai, which is the Japanese concept, ('concept' meaning 'idea'), the idea of a complete, happy, and fulfilling life!

Do you ever feel lost in life? As many of us do sometimes. And ask yourself questions like, 'Why am I here, on Earth?' Or, 'is there a special meaning behind my existence?' The inspiring Japanese concept of ikigai will help you find your life purpose, or your reason for living.

New vocabulary for today includes 'purpose-driven'. 'Purpose-driven'. A purpose-driven life is a life of meaning, a life where you matter, have purpose, and can serve other people - to be purpose-driven.

Next, 'centenarian'. Centenarian (noun) is a person who lives a hundred or more years. Okay, so over a hundred years old - a centenarian. There are many of these in Japan, especially on the island of Okinawa, which we'll talk about later.

Next, to 'navigate'. To navigate is to plan a route or to direct. To navigate, for example, a ship must navigate through the ocean to get to its destination,  uh, Captain Cook navigated the coast of Australia.  He's a famous explorer.

Next, 'ideology'. An ideology is a system of ideas and beliefs - ideology. For example, a Christian ideology, a Buddhist ideology, a stoic or ikigai ideology. It's a set of beliefs, a mindset, okay?

Next, to 'merge'. To merge is to turn different things into one thing. 

Uh, next word, 'consultant'. A consultant is a job and it means to give advice. or to help people, a consultant, yeah, you give advice for money. 

Next, 'gratitude' is a noun which means to appreciate and be thankful for, to show gratitude, to show thanks. I show gratitude in the people listening to this podcast. Thank you so much.

Next, to 'incorporate'. 

Next, to 'determine'. Which is to find out, or to make something clear. After this podcast, you'll determine if you'll use Ikigai in your everyday life.

Next, 'bliss'. Bliss is a beautiful word. Bliss, a noun, meaning pure happiness and joy - bliss. 

Another word, 'vocation', a noun. Vocation, which is a career path. My vocation is teaching English. My vocation used to be a graphic designer. 

The last word today, to 'reinvent', means to change something from the past into a new version, maybe you can reinvent your life after learning about ikigai. Some people find that eating healthy or doing yoga or meditation helps them reinvent their lives. Some people wear new kinds of clothes or into new genres of music. These are the ways that they reinvent themselves. Or you can reinvent a video game or sunglasses or anything really. If you make a past version, the old version of something into a better new version, you reinvent it.

Okay, finally, finally, okay. Ikigai, the ultimate guide to a fulfilled and purpose-driven life. Purpose-driven life. Ikigai is a Japanese concept that means the reason for living. 'Iki' means life or living and 'gai' means value. Together, ikigai is a thing that makes your life worth living. It's the source of your joy.

An inspiration, and is a reason for you to get out of bed every morning. In modern society, we're always told by the news and the media how to lead a life to the point we lose touch with our own desires, hopes, and dreams. I'm from the UK, and for as long as I can remember, the idea of attending college and getting a 9 to 5 job after graduation has been ingrained deeply into my mind, into my consciousness and the mind of all people around me.

The result is a very competitive, overly competitive society. Since childhood we were taught to perform well in school and to be reliable workers so we can  serve our societies and our capitalist companies well. Most of us have been set up to meet someone else's standards instead of following our own nature.

Instead of walking, marching forward to the sound of to the rhythm of your own drum, the ikigai concept, therefore, is mind-blowing to many people like me. Mind-blowing means something that sounds amazing and makes you suddenly think in a different way about something. The fact that so many Okinawans live to 100 years old in Japan is so mind-blowing.

Actually, the ikigai philosophy comes from the small island south of Japan, of Okinawa. It's the same place that karate is from too, karate, interestingly enough. Maybe there's a link. Okinawa is home to some of the oldest living people on Earth. And as you can well guess, ikigai is one vital ingredient in their longevity recipe.

They have an active lifestyle and a very natural diet. These centenarians, remember, believe having a sense of purpose, of meaning, is what makes life worth living. And they go on living for a long time. Remember, a centenarian, as we said, is a person who is over 100 years old.
The secret ingredient isn't just for the elderly (for old people). It's becoming the guiding compass, guiding direction of younger generations, both inside and outside of Japan. Actually, my ex-girlfriend, who's an amazing teacher in the USA, a true expert teacher,  she teaches workshops in ikigai to American high school students.

Ikigai is said to date back to the, uh, Heian period, so this is about a thousand years ago, from about 794 to 1185 AD, so, about a thousand years ago but only started gaining popularity in the West just recently, in the last 20 years since 2016's publication of the book, 'Ikigai: The Japanese Secret To A Long And Happy Life'.

Millions of readers worldwide have been introduced to ikigai.

Keep listening, and you will not have to read the full length of this book to understand this life changing concept. Well, to get a basic, right, a fundamental basic understanding. If you want a more advanced understanding, please read the book.

So according to the ikigai ideology, a blissful and meaningful life is built up of four, four main aspects: passion, mission, profession and vocation. So, in this ideology there are these four main aspects.

Okay, one, passion is what you love to do, what you deeply enjoy doing. 

Two, mission is also what you love, but also what the world needs. What does the world need that you can give that inspires you? 

While the three, vocation, is what the world needs, but also what you can be paid for. Okay? 

And four, is the profession, which is what you can be paid for, but also what you are naturally good at with your natural talents. And everyone has different natural talents.

The highest state of ikigai is achieved when one finds a way to merge, to merge, so, to combine all four of these aspects into one. But it is rather exceptional, and we don't see this daily. Instead, people who achieve the top level of ikigai are often known worldwide for their talent, drive, contribution and passion.

I mean, a living example of this is, uh, I mean, there are many, right? Here's one that was given to me. The world's famous, most famous tennis player, right? Federer, Roger Federer, who retired last week after his legendary career.  So he started playing tennis at three years old. He dedicates his life to it, to training, performing, but also to promoting it off the court, on the court. He does all kinds of different roles. Okay?

Tennis is his passion, his mission, his profession, and vocation. Literally four in one, right? I'm sure he'll be teaching tennis too, very soon. I'm sure he, maybe he already does.

Of course, there are many examples. Maybe you know some people. Maybe you know some people that are in a state of ikigai? They're inspired, they like their job, they get paid for it too, and they're excited to wake up in the morning to do it more. 

I would say maybe there's a couple of teachers at my school who, who genuinely love teaching. They're passionate about teaching,  uh, they're good at it naturally, and they get paid for it. So teaching is their ikigai. I mean, it's difficult, but I would say maybe there's a couple of teachers at my school who truly, out of like a hundred, of course, you know.

So how can ikigai be incorporated into our daily lives? To 'incorporate' something means to make a part of something.
(Examples: How can, how can I incorporate intermittent fasting into my daily routine? I incorporate deep dive research into my work.) Now I'll try to incorporate ikigai into my life.

You can easily determine your Ikigai by asking yourself four simple questions:

The first question is, what do you love doing? 

The second question is, what is your talent?

The third one is, what does the world need?

And last but not least, four. What can I be paid for? 

In the Ikigai diagram, which is also the graphic, the thumbnail for this podcast, each of these four questions is a circle in the picture. Please look at the picture or type in ikigai on Google to find it. Okay? These, uh, this will really help you understand it.

These four circles, each one representing, one represents passion, one mission, one vocation, and one profession and they all overlap each other.

So you must find the thing that fills every circle. So, all of these circles overlap. If you can find that thing, that job, or passion, or hobby that fills every circle, passion, mission, vocation, and profession, then you have found your ikigai!

Your passion is found by asking yourself, what do you love doing, and what you're good at doing.

Your mission is a combination of what you would love to do and what the world needs.

Your profession is your job. Which is a thing that you can do well and earn a living from.

And last, your vocation is a career you can earn a good amount of money from, because the world needs it.

Ikigai is the center point at which all four circles overlap. Can you visualize that? To 'visualize' means to hold an image of something in your head, okay? Verb - 'visualize'. Can you visualize this diagram?

So your ikigai must fill these four requirements. For example, this podcast, right? Okay, so this podcast could be seen as ikigai.

It's something I enjoy, it's something I'm passionate about and care about. Okay? I've become, I like to think, quite good at it, and it's something the world needs because there isn't enough passive, intermediate, interesting listening practice about topics, right? Different topics. And I could get paid for it. But that would take much more work, but it could happen if I had the time, okay?

This is how the Simple English Listening podcast could be my ikigai. So, I'm just missing the being paid for it part of it, yeah?  I like it enough to make it a career. So, there you go, finding out your ikigai or your reason for living is maybe not that hard after all, have a think.

However, in life, we would notice that our passion, profession, mission, vocation, these things change, they can change over time.

For example, nowadays, there are high paying professions, careers that could never be found ten years ago, such as being an influencer or social media consultant. There's new ways people are making big money.

A 'consultant'. A consultant is someone who gives people advice. Someone you pay them to give you help about a topic. A consultant will say you're excellent at making candles, but as candle production is being taken over by robots, you maybe face the risk of losing your job, right, in making candles, and need to learn another skill to make a living in the near future.

As the world evolves, we are constantly asked to reinvent ourselves and our ikigais. As we said before, to reinvent means to change to a new, better version. But the thing is, it turns out that ikigai is never a fixed idea. It can evolve and it can change. See it as a simple tool. A tool to help you navigate your way through life.

So remember, we have four key questions to find, help us find our Ikigai. Okay?

One, what do you love doing?

Two, what are you naturally talented at?

Three, what does the world need?

And four, what can you be paid for?

And these things might not stay the same for you throughout your life. But what's unchanged is this framework and the principles of ikigai.

So you can ask yourself these questions at different points in your life too. And maybe you've found your ikigai, but maybe it's slipping off ikigai.  So you can ask every so often these questions and evolve and update, right? And reinvent your Ikigai. I mean, of course, for some people, don't get me wrong, some people have the same ikigai for their whole life.

Personally, I think that's a beautiful thing. I have a friend who has been obsessed with boats his whole life. Now he makes them, yeah?  And he was one of the, he was like 12 when he sailed to France for the first time alone. Obsessed with boats since he was a kid. And he still is. 

Another thing the book teaches us is, according to the ikigai book, there are eight main principles to help you, uh, have a purpose-driven and blissful, blissful life.

The first one is, stay active and never retire. So, this is according to the Japanese. The Japanese centenarians, remember, a centenarian is someone who is over 100 years old. The Japanese centenarians believe an active lifestyle is a core, core to excellent health both physically and emotionally. And, by focusing on work, they forget their age, worries and negative thoughts. Having a duty and a higher calling boosts their sense of self worth, as well as keeps their attention on the present moment. 

The second principle in the ikigai book is, slow down and enjoy life. Despite following their ikigai, Okinawans also try to find time to enjoy the little things in life after working hours when they work.

They're one with their work. And when they're on leave, they stop thinking about it and truly appreciate life. You know, time with family, walks on the beach, yeah, gardening. This is called a work life balance.  Work life balance, and it's something I myself have honestly found to be very difficult to have maintained for many years.

I find I'm always exhausted, to be honest, and basically have no free time, and haven't for years, really. So this is something I'm not doing correctly. If we're always on the go, go, go, yeah, and rushing through life without appreciating its sweetness and the small things, life could become so meaningless and bitter.

So if you get a chance to socialize with your friends, to just enjoy your time off, do it. Yeah, it'll help you feel rejuvenated afterwards. I always feel rejuvenated after bonding, connecting, drinking a bit with my friends. 'Rejuvenated' means to feel young and full of life. 

The third principle is eat only until your stomach is 80 percent full. They call it Harahachibu. Sorry if my pronunciation is not correct there. This is a unique phrase that is often said before a meal in Okinawa, to remind Okinawans to stop eating when they're 80 percent full, and to practice eating in a slow and calm manner. This rule of thumb plays an important role in maintaining healthy body weight and keeping obesity away. 

The average daily calorie intake of an Okinawan is only apparently about 1,900 calories each day, which is almost half of an American. According to this research, an American eats on average over 3,500 calories a day. Besides, the Okinawan diet limits meat, refined grains, saturated fat, sugar, salt and dairy products, which tend to have more inflammatory properties. How amazing! 

Next, principle four. Keep the company of good friends. Across Okinawa Island, villagers meet every other day to share their stories, to experience, to advise each other. This frequent exchange of energy, of social energy, boosts people's moods, meaning and happiness levels, and establishes deep relationships and a trust between one another.

They even have a term for this particular type of group, 'moai'.  Moai is known today as a social support network. A social support network is an essential part of Okinawan culture.

According to scientists,  our groups of friends can affect our well being even more than our family. This explains why having great friends makes us live longer. Well, by saying friends, I mean your real friends, okay? Not social media contacts, like on Facebook friends or Twitter followers, it's not your real friends, okay?

The fifth principle is, smile often and show gratitude. 'Gratitude' means your thanks and appreciation, your gratitude. Smiling makes you feel good and also attracts friends more easily. It is a way of expressing gratitude and acknowledgement to another person. A smile is free and yet, so powerful. 

In terms of health, they say that those who smile more have a reduced, a lower heart rates and blood pressure and the muscles are more relaxed. It's a natural factor in longevity. 'Longevity' means how long a person lives for.

Moreover, as well as helping longevity and showing gratitude, smiling helps Okinawans and the people who practice it to move up their work environment, right?  Um, to maybe try to, you know, smile a bit more in the office. See what happens.

Principle six, we're nearly there, of the ikigai book is re-establish your connection with nature. This, I can tell you, in Hanoi, is something that I fear is, uh, forgotten. I mean, there is hardly any nature here, uh,  hardly any parks, uh, hardly so much as a slither of grass that you can walk your dog on. Uh, I mean, there's a few parks, and they're obviously packed, full of people all the time. 

Gardening. Here is one, gardening. Touching plants and soil. And you do see like, small gardens outside of houses here in Hanoi. People desperately trying to, I guess, connect with nature. Touching the plants and soil, yeah? Exchanging produce, seeds and vegetables within friends is a solid part of Okinawa's culture.

This keeps the Okinawans grounded and connected with the Earth. Studies have shown again and again that being surrounded by green space reduces the chance of getting cancer and mental illnesses. Intuitively, the Okinawans have sensed this, have known it deep down, and have put it into practice for many centuries.

The seventh principle of ikigai is, plan for the future, but live in the moment. Japanese have long been known for their attention to details and dedication to their crafts, which is achieved by getting into the 'flow' state.

'Flow' is when you do something with your full attention and enjoy every moment of it. For example, at some point when recording this podcast, I got into the flow state and simply spoke to you without worrying about my other responsibilities. For me, when I play guitar or surf, I'm in the flow state. This seventh principle reminds us to enjoy the present moment, regardless of what we do.

Okay, so we've gone through a lot of Okinawan rules of thumb for a happy life.

But last but not least, the final principle, okay, is no other than follow your ikigai.

As we have all learned from the start of the podcast, ikigai is the secret ingredient to a meaningful life. Without it, even the oldest Okinawan would feel lost. So it would be absolutely helpful for us to listen to our inner voice, get clear about your unique ikigai by often asking the four questions.

One, what do you love doing? Two, what are you naturally talented at? Three, what does the world need? And four, what can you be paid for? And try to move towards things that tick all of these boxes, that fulfill all of these criteria. Ikigai will not only assist you on your career path, but has the power to motivate and bring you joy, especially in times of crisis.

I'm sure that by this time you've gained a basic understanding of ikigai. As I said, the diagram is very helpful to understand it further. Just type in 'ikigai' on Google, or look at the thumbnail to bring your knowledge of this Japanese living principle to the next level, you could always find out more. Yeah, read the book, go on YouTube. 

So, let's revise some of the new vocabulary for today. So we have a 'centenarian'. A centenarian is a person who lives a hundred or more years. 

To 'navigate', is to plan a route or direct. To navigate, for example, a ship must navigate through the ocean to reach its destination.

Next, 'ideology'. It's a system, uh, of ideas, beliefs, an ideology. Ikigai is an ideology.

To be a 'consultant' is a job. A consultant is someone who gives advice for money, okay?

Next, 'gratitude'. Gratitude is a noun which means to appreciate and be thankful for. I show my gratitude to you all. Thank you for listening.

'Bliss'. Bliss is a noun meaning pure happiness and joy.

Next, 'vocation'. Vocation is a career path. My vocation is teaching English. Right now, anyway. But I've had many different vocations throughout my life.

Last word, to 'reinvent'. To reinvent means to change something from the past into a new version. Maybe you can reinvent your life after learning about ikigai. 

How do you find Ikigai? Let me know if you would like to incorporate this into your life in the comments on Facebook or Spotify or wherever you listen to this.

Please let me know if you enjoyed the podcast.  It's always encouraging and inspiring for me to hear  what, you know, if it means something to you guys.

As always, thank you so much for your time and I hope you have an amazing and beautiful week and see you next time, my friends.