Making An Impact Through Meaningful Work

People can feel ikigai by having meaningful work that impacts other people positively. In Ted Bonnah's case, having a son with autism, he found ikigai by helping people with children with special needs, educating them on how to deal with and take care of their children.

People can feel ikigai through meaningful connections

Ted: So another thing that has changed my ikigai is that my son has autism, and he's going to a Japanese school that's just not meeting his needs. So three days a week, I go in and teach my son in a Japanese school and I haul all the stuff he's opposing and all the socialization he refuses. 

They're trying to hammer him down, to get back to the initial metaphor. He's just saying, nope, get your hands off me. And so I connected to a Facebook group of people with disabled kids here in Japan.

Everything that I would do with my son, I would put it up. And someone said, hey, could you write a book chapter about this? And I said, sure. So I wrote a book chapter about it. And so now I've started my own consulting agency.

So I'm going to try and get paid to give workshops about power harassment to Japanese companies, and how to deal with special education children here and how to support them as much as you can.

And I think this is not the ikigai I had envisioned. But I think it's what I'm controlling as much as I can. But I'm also going with the flow. And I think it's given me a lot of satisfaction in my days. It was kind of nice that you saw that in an article that you read.

I think anyone talking about ikigai, whether you're talking about the big ikigai, this one thing, or it's all these little practices, you gotta realize material conditions, people are under what they can do while we're stuck in this system.

Then you can say, how can I make things better for myself and for other people stuck in this system? And so this is where my ikigai comes in now.

Nick: I really think meaningful work where it impacts others positively. And you get a great sense of satisfaction from it can be a source of ikigai. So I'm certainly not saying ikigai, it's not your work, it's not your job.

Ted: It could be, right? It's not limited to that.

Nick: It could be, yeah. I think it's just about some sort of contribution. And you gain some sense of significance. But it really seems to be connecting to others in a meaningful way. For me, anyway, at the end of the day, if that's through work, or for personal relationships.

And I guess, you were joking before, but actually doing this podcast is one of my ikigai because I get to meet very interesting people and have these fun conversations, even if we go deep.