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Isabella Puddu Blog

Thoughts of a coach

Ikigai and Medical Coaching

In the last few years we heard many times the word Ikigai.

It comes from Japan and means “a reason for being”, the purpose and meaning of life. The term Ikigai derives from two Japanese words “iki", meaning life and “kai”, meaning value and worth.

Basically, Ikigai has been translated as the reason why you get up in the morning.

Why is it gaining so much popularity? Probably today we feel much more the urgency to change our priorities from performance to fulfillment.

In any of us there is an ikigai.

Maybe you already found it or maybe not, you can use Ikigai to improve your life and find your balance and happiness.

Let’s have a look at the Ven diagram representing Ikigai.

Your ikigai lies at the centre of the interconnecting circles and needs to answer the following questions:

What do you love?

What does the world need from you?

What can you be paid for?

What are you good at?

These questions go very deep in us and reveal a great deal of our passion, mission, vocation and profession.

It is about finding something that can change our mindset and makes our life healthier day after day. We need to work on our Ikigai and while some questions can be easy to find, others can be very challenging and based on self-knowledge.

Once we find our Ikigai, we definitely need to keep it in our mind and stay focused on it.

While I was searching on the web about Ikigai, there is another term I find very interesting and related: the idea of flow.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is a Hungarian-American psychologist. He recognized and named the psychological concept of flow, suggesting that enhancing the time spent in flow makes our lives more happy and successful. Nothing else seems to matter when you are in flow.

In an interview, Csíkszentmihályi described flow as "being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one. Your whole being is involved, and you're using your skills to the utmost.”

When was the last time you experienced a state of flow?

Was it connected to what you are passionate about, to your mission, to your vocation and to your profession?

As a coach, I relate regularly to words as mission, passion and purpose but what about my medical coaching practice?

Is it possible to talk about Ikigai to clients who are dealing with a medical/health crisis?

Every client who is facing a health challenge needs to see himself as a person and not as his illness.

The first stage of Medical Coaching is the inner compass: it is a radical act of hope and choice to live in the best possible way. I help my clients to focus on their life vision and to set the goals to achieve it.

In their book “The Healing Self”, Deepak Chopra and Rudolph E. Tanzi talk about the fact that “any experience is a possible candidate for healing”. And “that a day without any sensation of physical pain doesn’t escape experiences such as lack of fulfillment and leading a life without much purpose or meaning”.

This means that healing comes from inside more than from outside. The more we get conscious about that, the better we can live a healthy life. Everyone can be proactive and creative to achieve his goals and go towards his Ikigai.

The concept of flow is a little different in Medical Coaching but extremely interesting. The health or medical crisis may interrupt the flow of our client who finds himself in a liminal space.

A liminal space is a transitional phase, a challenge, between two well-defined states. Our client needs to leave the old state to enter into the new one and again find his Ikigai in order to re-establish the flow. We help our client to step out of this space offering a new perspective on his illness.

Ikigai is an inner journey and everyday is a new day to renew our promise to ourselves.


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