Ikigai and Physical Health

What are the benefits of having ikigai? Is ikigai really helpful for our well-being? Nick and Dr. Yasuhiro Kotera talk about the advantages of having ikigai to our physical and mental welfare.

Nick: So let's jump into what you wrote about Ikigai and physical health. What did the research you studied reveal about Ikigai and physical health?

Yasuhiro: For physical health, having ikigai really helps us to address the physiological burden that we experience and that kind of burden can accumulate. It's almost like tiredness or fatigue that can accumulate with a stressed mind or no ikigai mind.

That can lead to various poor health outcomes, such as cardiovascular disease, or other stress-related headaches, those kinds of things. So, having Ikigai can reduce this burden in your system, and then therefore, reduces the likelihood of those negative outcomes.

Nick: So is that burden you talk about is that allostatic load?

Yasuhiro: Yes. But I think this word doesn't mean anything much to many people, including myself before I learned this word.

Nick: Yes. All right. I had to look it up. And I found a good way to describe it: it is the wear and tear on the body. 

Yasuhiro: Pretty accurate. That's pretty much so. 

Nick: Okay, so lots of fatigue stress. If we have Ikigai, it seems to counter that and help us deal with those health problems. And I think another thing you discovered is that people who do have Ikigai they're more likely to engage in things like exercise and perhaps healthy habits?

Yasuhiro: Yes, healthy habits. Or it can be called self-care behaviors. Ikigai can lead to those healthy self-care behaviors. Makes sense that those who feel like they live their life feeling cohesion, congruence from their life, engage more.

They take care of themselves more and then interact with others. And then interestingly, those healthy behaviors also lead to better mental health.

Nick: So it's like a positive circle just going around and around if you engage in healthy behavior, or if you have Ikigai, you'll engage in healthy behavior. Then if you engage in healthy behavior, you have a better mindset; if you have a better mindset, you probably find more Ikigai, and then you probably do better, healthier things. 

Yasuhiro: Very true.