Value Disengagement

Sometimes people need to step away from effortful experiences. According to Dr. Shintaro Kono, effortful experiences can be daunting. Hence, people need to step away from doing those activities and seek enjoyable and comforting ones. In that case, people can have the motivation to get back to their challenging experiences.

Nick: You also discovered that students needed to disengage from their ikigai experiences, especially effortful ones, which I guess makes sense.

We do need to sometimes switch off and take a break from, I guess, from everything in life, but also leisure. 

Shin: Before getting to what I call value disengagement. Again, getting away from sometimes overwhelmingly effortful experiences. What’s common here and also value balancing, is that my theory of ikigai and keiken is very dynamic.

You can’t do, for example, effort, effort, effort, effort and you can increase, increase, increase your ikigai. There’s a kind of direct balance between them. It’s not a continuum where one is absolutely negative, the other side is absolutely positive.

There is somewhere in the middle optimal situation and you have to make yourself align there and that’s actually more difficult. A lot of theories out there, I mean, lots of psychology, behavioral, all that kind of behavioral science theories.

They are more simplistic in a way that do this, this is positively related, do it. But newer research, recent research and including my ikigai keiken theory is that now there is a balance. There’s a synergistic effect.

There is something going on. This is part of that too. And again, just like you said, effortful experience can be just daunting. Doing work -- I do research and teaching. Sometimes teaching can be overwhelming. I love teaching but at the same time, so many markings and it's too much.

What’s important is not actually keep doing it, but also take a step away from it. And often this is again, leisure is a unique position because it provides you a breather in your life that you can take a step back and not think about it, have fun.

But here it's a little bit different from enjoyment because enjoyment is what we seek. But value disengagement is an escape, it's a positive escape because effort becomes too much, you want to get away from it. That’s the purpose.

Usually you go for something enjoyable or comforting. Now you’d get back to it. The point is that you have the purpose of getting back to challenging experience, effortful experience. It’s not total escapism, if that makes sense.

Nick: It does make sense. I guess, it leans towards, as you just mentioned, comfort. If you do disengage from effortful activities that give you purpose or leisure, taking a break from them gives you the comfort you need to obviously re-engage with them later.

Shin: Exactly. Related to that though and value disengagement, first when we tested it, it was obvious in a qualitative interview results. When I tested it in a survey with a number relationship with their value disengagement and ikigai feeling was not as strong as I hoped.

So what I did was I separated them my students into two groups. Students who have a higher level of negative emotion, like anxiety and fearfulness and low negative emotion folks. 

What I found was that the importance of value disengagement was way higher and is very much significant with students with high negative emotions. This is a dynamic theory that the importance of value disengagement depends on the situation.