A missing sense of purpose

YESTERDAY, October 10, it was World Mental Health day.

A day of raising awareness about mental health and an opportunity for people to share some of their experiences and insights about mental health.

Even the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby got in on the act, going public with his admission of suffering a bad depressive episode last year.

Raising awareness about mental health issues is obviously a good idea in an era where such problems have become so commonplace in our society.

But speaking personally, these kind of days reek too much of a sort of superficial and confessional type of personal- public therapy for my liking.

There’s this gloriously naive idea in place that if only we could talk about these issues, the problems would then disappear.

What’s sorely missing is any real critique of our present social and economic circumstances which are making people so ill today.

For instance, why don’t we ever hear about the fact that it’s the nature of work  which is perhaps the biggest culprit of all here ?

Gallup conducted a huge survey of several thousand people in the UK in 2017, which showed that only 17% of people really loved their work and were actively engaged by it.

40% of respondents said they merely ‘tolerated’ their work, whilst an incredible 43% said they actively hated their work.

How can a society ever hope to foster positive mental health amongst its citizens, when almost half of the workforce have such a visceral dislike of their every day existence?

We have been put on earth to be creators just like our original creator, but for all too many people today, those elements of creativity and purpose are just not there in their every day lives.

The Japanese have a concept called Ikigai, which means ‘ finding your life purpose’ or ‘finding your flow’.

They believe that  true Ikigai can only be achieved when you find common ground between your passion, mission, vocation and profession.

Quite simply it declares that every individual needs to do what they LOVE in life, and what they are GOOD at doing. This in turn needs to meet what society NEEDS, and for which they can then be PAID.

Ikikai teachers suggest a little exercise for people seeking their purpose in life, which is called the Saturday Morning Test.

What would you do on a free Saturday morning if you had nothing  at all to do?  Your freely chosen option of activity without any external duress should then lead you to your Ikigai.

And a fresh revelation of new working options. Based on purpose, creativity and contentment.

Less jaw-jaw and more joy-joy should be the lesson from Japan for our mental health industry!



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