Navigating Life’s Highs and Lows

How do you overcome difficult moments in life?

Jamila Rodrigues’ article explores the concept of ikigai as a powerful coping mechanism during times of crisis.

Embracing ikigai in times of crisis

Nick: I'm really excited that we can explore this theme and talk about your latest article, ‘In the middle of up and down, ikigai is there’: Japanese women embodied narratives of crisis and coping. So that's an interesting title. Is the up and down of in the middle of up and down, ikigai is there referring to the ups and downs of life?

Jamila: Yes. Actually, this in the middle of up and down, it's a quote from one of my participants.

Right at the end of the interview, she told me, ‘In the middle of up and down, ikigai is there’ and I think she meant that in the up and down of life, we can still feel our meaning in life, our well-being, our ikigai. So yeah, absolutely.

Nick: And where are you at the moment? Are you up, or in the middle, or down?

Jamila: I'm in the middle. I would say I'm in the middle, wanting to be up.

Nick: Me, too. Sounds familiar.

Jamila: I think in a sense, we're always in the middle. Not often we’re up, sometimes we’re down, I think, the balance is in the middle.

Nick: So it's a great quote. I love it. As I just mentioned, your article explores contemporary Japanese women's narratives of crisis, and its embodied experience, and how it relates to ideas of ikigai. And to quote you:

This is an exploratory study, and it was conducted to gain insight into women's embodied experience of times of crisis and how they find or maintain ikigai during this time.’

So a fascinating theme. So what attracted you, or inspired you to explore this theme?

Jamila: I think it goes back to our first meeting, the fact that I personally had quite a big crisis with the car accident and everything that involves all my dance career, and everything that was left behind out of this traumatic experience.

So most often, I feel that when people experience some sort of loss of direction, confusion, or sadness in their life, we tend to seek out for things, we tend to seek out for answers. You know, self-help books, texts, psychology, other forms of therapy, listening to a podcast. So people do seek out for things.

But sometimes the answers we seek in times of crisis are exactly within us. And if we stop and put that into practice, and put into practice, what we already know, and what we already learned from life, or simply attending to our body, so listening to what's happening inside of us.

In that sense, I wanted to explore the stories of ordinary people. People like you and I, crisis and problems that in one way or another we all go through, or that we can relate to. And I wanted to hear from them, how did they overcome these issues? And how do they maintain their ikigai or well-being?

And through the interviews, I actually found there was one participant that also had a car accident. So I could relate really well to her experience. And I think that's what inspired me to explore this theme.

Nick: It is a fascinating subject. And I was reflecting on this earlier today and thought if have I gone through crisis. I thought I hadn't. And then I realized I had a significant crisis, which I won't mention now. But yeah, we all at some stage in our life will probably face some major crisis. And hopefully we can maintain our ikigai, or learn about it, and be able to share it with others.