Dan Buettner is a National Geographic Explorer and the author of “The Blue Zones of Happiness: Lessons from the World’s Happiest People.” Here, he shares his insights on how to live a long and meaningful life. Following is a transcript of the video.
Dan Buettner: My name is Dan Buettner. I’m a National Geographic Explorer and the author of “Blue Zones of Happiness: Lessons From the World’s Happiest People.”
Only about 30% of Americans actually like their job, and that’s a really important area for happiness because you spend most of your waking hours working. So, you ask yourself how do you find a job that really speaks to your passions or purpose.
And I like to think of doing an internal inventory: “What do you like to do?” “What are you good at doing?” “What allows you to live out your values?” and “What can you give back?”
And I actually have an exercise where I answer all those four questions and put a list for each. And then find where the common denominators are, and that gives you a pretty good idea of what your purpose or as the Okinawans call what your “ikigai” is.
I first heard about ikigai in Okinawa among a group of 100-year-old women who are telling me that for them it means the reason for which I wake up in the morning.
Interestingly in Okinawa, where women live the longest in the world, there is no word for retirement. And instead, this idea of ikigai imbues people’s entire adult life.
And I think it’s a reminder of knowing your sense of purpose and living your sense of purpose, whether it’s in your job or your social life or in your family life.
And for me, and this is an interpretation — ikigai seem more than just pursuing your passion, like golfing or knitting, but it also included an element of responsibility. Like, you get to a certain age and you can go ahead and do the job or work that fuels your flow, but you should also be thinking about giving back.
That’s true ikigai.