Reflections on Past Experiences

Does one's ikigai evolve with age?

This video features an insightful discussion among professionals, exploring how the accumulated ikigai over the years can influence an individual's sense of purpose as they grow older.

Ikigai for older adults

Sachiaki: Yeah, I have a question. So I think when you talked about that feeling of natsukashi, kind of remembering the past thing, and then maybe it is more relevant for senior citizens. Because the older you get, of course, you can still cultivate your opportunities, and you can still enjoy your life and things.

But generally speaking, it becomes, basically, you have less opportunities compared to when you were younger. Therefore, quite often you spend your time reflecting upon your life and some of your earlier memories, or earlier accomplishments, still, plays a key role in your ikigai.

So I just want to know how other people think of this point. Ikigai for senior citizens, and how reflecting upon the past can help them?

Nick: Awesome, nice question. Who would like to answer?

Trudy: Am I the oldest?

Nick: You're the wisest.

Trudy: I know I'm not, but I think I'm the oldest in this group. So I'll say it has two parts to looking back. You can look back, I have regrets. Right? I have regrets. And I'm not one of the people who think you should never have regrets, it's not true.

Like I have real regrets. There are things I wish I had done differently, or things I didn't do, and I wish I had done. But it doesn't paralyze me. So that when something like that happens again, I have an opportunity to do something different.

So I think there are regrets. But I also think, I was thinking about it, and thinking that, there are periods of time that really stand out. It's kind of like a net. And there's little light at certain times, certain ages. Like, I'm so glad I did that.

And that's something that brings me comfort. And I'm glad coming to Ottawa 11 years ago, that was a huge decision. And I am so glad I made that decision, even though I had to give up something that I didn't want to give up. And there were other consequences.

But I do agree with the questioner that as you're older, you can look back and you can distill some of the very lovely things that you did that made up your life. And you can also look clearly, shinely at the things you wished you didn't do. But it's okay. We're human, right? And I appreciate our humanity.

Nick: Wonderful. How was that Sachiaki?

Sachiaki: Yeah, thank you very much. I think it's really true. I am actually 60 years old now, which is still young, depending on your definition. But I think all the more, I think about those questions as sort of senior citizens and how seniors use ikigai.

Nick: Awesome. Shin, go ahead.

Shintaro: Yeah. Can I jump in there a bit? And it was a very great question, and Trudy’s response. And I wanted to kind of chime in to that, because my first study, well, first couple of studies, actually, two were based on university students.

So one of the limitations that I noted was the fact that there were young adults, emerging adults, I guess, we typically call, and, you know, older person's perceptions and experience of ikigai might have been a little different.

And one of the things that I specifically noted was one of the theories that I have is called houkousei or life-directionality, which is about connections that people create between past, current, and future. And maybe students were more future-oriented in a way because we think that we have much more in our life moving forward, rather than who someone who lived to 60 years, 80 years, and so on, and so forth.

So they may have extreme over backward, and not in a bad way. But you know, they have, in a way, sort of like a rich bank of ikigai sources that you can actually make. So many connections, in so many different ways, that who you are today is supported by, even though your life journey may have been messy like this, but you can make such a rich and complex tapestry of the many things that fitted into and shaped who you are today. So that could be rich thing.

And just to take your question, step forward, though, is the ikigai across generations. And that could be a very interesting question that I would love to study. That yes, you may not live for example, let's say somebody may not live because they're 80 years old, so the next 20 years, in 20 years.

But they could still impact the next generation, other people, community, right. And that become their ikigai, but still future-oriented way beyond their lifespan, their time here on earth. And in which I think it's very interesting and it could be psychological work, it could be the work that could save the humanity.

That's a grandiose statement, but you know, in the long run, and I think that's what many people do, many people retire, many people find a meaningful volunteer job or teaching gigs because they want to pass on something to the next generations.

Ad how that impacts people's ikigai and how we can do that better, and how it can trigger that thought, some of the people with the rich experiences, so that they would have more opportunity, more people will come out and come up to actually give more expertise and their tips and whatnot for the next generation. I think that could be an interesting ikigai research in itself.

Trudy: You should do it.

Shin: Thank you. I kind of need the money and time, but I’ll figure it out.

Nick: You've got a lot of research to do actually, Shin, from this conversation. So good luck.