When I read about a 100-year-old Brazilian man who entered the Guinness World Record book for working for the longest time at the same company. It immediately drew me to the book Ikigai and the Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life. Walter Orthmann’s life resembles the principles of Ikigai-The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life. He started on the factory floor of a company, which is now known as RenauxView, 84 years ago and continues to work there. “You can’t just do any job to say that you’re working. That does not work,” Orthmann said.
It is true that our Ikigai is hidden deep inside us and we must all follow a passion in order to live longer and stay healthy through the years. For Walter Orthmann he never gave up on his Ikigai and remains loyal to his work. It has been something that contributed to his long and healthy life.
When I was reading this book, I was on the verge of giving up my teaching job and it made me angry that I could not quit without feeling guilty and giving up what I am inherently good at and also a profession that the world needs. I believe your Ikigai does not ever stop if you give up on something. I think you will only try to find it somewhere else for we all need a sense of purpose and work to drive us. When I quit instead of relaxing in my free time, it worked in reverse where I started looking for some form of work even when I did not have to. It was important for me to keep working in some way.
I loved how the book says it is anything where you are in a state of flow. I often look at our community sweeper who cleans up the surroundings and looks so content and always in a state of flow. She has found her Ikigai. Even for me cleaning up the kitchen is such great therapy and you find your flow even in your daily routine work. Work in any form helps our overall well-being.
Work also keeps us active and thriving. I know when I am working, I am healthier and happier. Also, the people around me are happy when I am engaged, being creative, absorbed in something and contributing.
Nana korobi ya oki
Resilience as the book suggests is also key when you stay focused on your objective and never give up. I believe I need to be more resilient but I always have a way of getting back up when I fall.
It is like the Japanese proverb “Nana korobi ya oki” which translated means ‘Fall down seven times, get up eight’. The proverb speaks to the Japanese concept of resilience and the ‘insistence’ that no matter how many times you get knocked down, you must get up again.
Walter Orthmann’s life is inspiring like the book Ikigai. His loyalty, undevoted passion and his complete immersion into his work stands out which led him to entering the Guinness Book of World Records.
What is Ikigai for me?
The work that you can call your own; that only you are responsible for, that state of flow which fills you with creativity and a sense of purpose, to contribute in a small way in the vastness of the world. I am continuously in search of my Ikigai but I trust that it is never lost.