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A framework for mindfulness

We can learn a good deal from the culture of people outside our circle of influence. The Japanese population is known for its orderliness. They have a number of traits that help their mindfulness. They are good at responding peacefully and orderly in an emergency. Think how the Japanese responded to the huge earthquake that hit the country in 2011. The Prime Minister set up an emergency command centre and immediately made available 100,000 members of the Self Defence Force. It was quick, it was calm and it was efficient.


This makes me interested in a framework that has gone viral and was created by Norm Tam. Norm Tam is Canadian although he has an interest in Eastern and Asian approaches, especially in explaining the meaning of life. Mr Tam worked in a global shipping company but, when feeling somewhat down, he went online where he was inspired by four circles. They were labelled "what you love", "what you are good at", "what the world needs", and "what you can be paid for". Where these circles intersected was the Japanese word “ikigai”.


The four circles and their intersection point to "a reason for being". As a result, Mr Tam and many other consultants have set themselves up as personal coaches showing how the answer to those four questions can improve our mindfulness. There are now a number of self-help books that show how ikigai can uncover the secret to a long and happy life.


We would be very fortunate if in our lives there is a big overlap of all the four circles. However, if just three of the circles overlap there may be some insights we can determine. For example, if we find something that we love, that we are good at and that people will pay for, then we may end up being reasonably wealthy but having a feeling of uselessness because it isn't something that the world really needs.


Equally, if what we love and what the world needs and what we are good at overlaps but does not include what people will pay for, we can imagine that we could anticipate a life that is full and delightful but not one that will make us wealthy.