In Sanskrit they call it Dahrma, in Japanese they call it Ikigai, and in both it is the center in which 4 different concepts are combined: that which generates passion in me, that for which I am good, that which is useful for the world, and that which can give me what I need to live. It is not a physical space, nor a goal, nor a specific place. According to what I have been able to understand, it is rather a permanent aspiration, a long path that leads nowhere specific, but to permanent personal growth.
According to those who know about this, the search for happiness as such is useless, if it is not defined in some way. Dahrma or Ikigai are two very useful ways I have found recently to describe this elusive and constant search for happiness. Because, that’s why we are here, isn’t it? To be happy and enjoy what we are. Much easier said than done, even for a few minutes a day, isn’t it? Even more so in this difficult 2020 that has tested all the concepts and ideas we had about life.
Before you leave the text, I don’t intend to give you a bad lesson about these two concepts or give you a hard time about how to incorporate them into your life. This text is my attempt to understand these two concepts, to understand myself through them, and to share it with you. I hope it serves me, and I hope it serves you.
That which generates passion in me. I don’t know how to define this without falling into cheesy generalizations or cheap clichés, but I will try. I am passionate about understanding difficult things, complex phenomena, especially those that have to do with people and the interaction between them. I am passionate about understanding the motives of people who move the world, as well as their vision of life and their strategies. I am passionate about taking the great lessons that come from these people and communicating them to others and trying to make an impact on them in the same way that they made an impact on me. Teaching, educating, inspiring, moving others is what I am most passionate about. To be on stage, in a classroom or in a close-up communicating an idea that can transform a person is my greatest passion. The same thing happens to me when I write something like this. I’m passionate about the thought that one of my readers will have a revealing moment with one of the ideas I write, and it will serve him/her well. That moves me.
That which I’m good at. This is perhaps the one that costs me the most. I am educated to avoid arrogance. «Praise in one’s own mouth is vituperation» I was told many times by those who educated me. It is a red flag that I always have in my head. And, although I still believe that pride is a terrible characteristic, false modesty is a terrible limitation in my life. So I am going to try, even if it hurts: I am very good at understanding complex social phenomena, extracting the most important elements from them, forgetting the ephemeral, creating a simple model, and explaining it to other people. (I said it, «I’m very good,» and I really believed it. I’m doing something right). So, the thousands of hours of teaching that I have accumulated, added to the hours that I have giving lectures and courses, seeing and reading the public, their reactions and emotions, together with the hours that are behind to study and prepare classes and lectures, have given me a great capacity to see beyond the obvious, create simple explanations and make them available to others.
That which is useful to the world. Those of us who were born in the 1970s lived for a couple of decades in a world, or at least a country, with very few bridges to reality. There were three TV channels, three newspapers, some magazines and books. That was our window to the world. Thus, the great teachers and leaders of the time were the lucky ones who had the possibility of accessing information that was restricted to the great majority and had the right platform to repeat it. I would have been of little use at that time. Today, information is available to virtually everyone. And it is too vast. In this era the challenge is to discriminate, to cure, to synthesize, to link and to relate relevant pieces of information, to understand reality. The great challenge today is to create simple models to understand very complex social problems, without drowning in the tsunami of information, to get non-experts to understand it and to generate some reaction in them. So, what I do well is really useful for the world at this time.
That which can give me what I need to live. This has been the great creative and personal challenge of this year. The jobs that could make the best use of the three elements above are very few and already taken. So, I have no choice but to create my own space to serve, with passion, and take advantage of what I am good at. Doing this at 45, a husband and father of two, with many responsibilities, is not only difficult, but sometimes frightening. Most days you feel that you are dragging everyone into a useless and unrealistic dream. The temptation to ask for a job somewhere or look for a placement agency is permanent. But I have two blessings. The first is an amazing family, as well as a very small but wonderful set of friends who believe in me and push me every day to keep looking for my Dahrma. The second blessing is my blood. I come from a couple of families of stubborn people who never give up, who were even willing to give up everything, to cross the Atlantic Ocean and look for a better place to build a family.
So goes my search for my Ikigai or Dahrma. As I warned you, I was not trying to give you the recipe for finding yours, but maybe reading this will motivate you to do so. If I succeeded with one of you, it means that, indeed, I am good at communicating and inspiring.