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March blog


I have been thinking about ‘being happy’ and what that means.  So I was wondering what helps me

to be happy.  I thought at first that it might be money, but as anyone touched in some way by an

illness such as cancer knows, money isn’t a lot of good – it can’t buy health and it can’t buy


Then I wondered if it was having a great marriage / relationship – well, having great friends and a

wonderful family is fantastic and of course it helps – but sometimes we all need a bit more.

I turned to look at some interesting information that has come from Japan.  There is a Japanese

philosophy called ‘Ikigai’.


Ikigai means ‘Reason for Being’.  Its about what puts a smile on your face when you wake up in the

morning and keeps you motivated.

Finding your Ikigai could be described as answering the question -‘What should I do with my life?’

Often people that I meet with who are on their cancer journey have got a bit lost and are no longer

sure about their Ikigai – things have changed so much that people are often not at all sure what they

should do with their lives.  Sometimes the very effort of getting up and doing anything seems very

tough.  I know that many people living with cancer don’t work outside the home but I think some of

the principles in the diagram above can still be applied.

In their book, ‘Ikigai The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life’, Hector Garciaand Francesc Mirallesbreak down the ten rulesthat can help anyone find their ownikigai.

  1. Stay active and don’t retire – don’t give up
  2. Leave urgency behind and adopt a slower pace of life – stress less
  3. Only eat until you are 80 per cent full – keep control of your weight
  4. Surround yourself with good friends – and laugh and have fun
  5. Get in shape through daily, gentle exercise – of course I agree with this one!
  6. Smile and acknowledge people around you – you will be amazed by what you get back
  7. Reconnect with nature – get outside – you will feel terrific!
  8. Give thanks to anything that brightens our day and makes us feel alive. – the joy is in the little things
  9. Live in the moment – its all that any of us has
  10. Follow your ikigai

What you deeply careabout can unlock your ikigai

Follow your curiosity.

Philosopher and civil rights leader Howard W Thurmansaid, “Ask what makes you come alive and go do it.” … “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

My comments are in italics – I think this is a pretty good way of going about life.  Our lives are altered forever by a diagnosis of cancer but we can still find joy, purpose and meaning in our life.  We can still find things that put a smile on our face first thing in the morning and discover what we want to do with our lives.  Life is for living – lets all make the most of it