Tim Tamashiro
for booking contact:
Ryan Davis
604-662-4144 x221

How to Ikigai

3 questions for... Tim Tamashiro

Happiness is a one person job.

Make your job more you. Throw fish!
Tim Tamashiro
Sing. Speak. Ikigai.
Most people struggle to find their purpose. Ikigai provides a map.

When Tim Tamashiro was a young 22 year old man he was employed as a survey assistant on a highway construction crew. He took the position after trying out other jobs at a gas station and at a men’s clothing store. Although he was earning a good income building roads he was unfulfilled. He wondered if it was possible to do work that was meaningful and rewarding yet still be able to earn a living. Tim made the decision to follow his heart. He decided to attend college to study music. He believed that if he learned the music business he could use it to his advantage to becoming a singer. So he devised a plan that would focus on doing just two things from now on: what he loved to do and what he was good at. College provided him with a practical knowledge of the music business that he still utilizes today.

In his heart, Tim felt that there was something so perfect about focusing on what he loved to do and what he was good at. In fact, it felt as though it was part of him. It felt like an important pearl of wisdom had been presented to him on a silver platter. Living his life now felt meaningful. He decided that he would only do what he loved to do and what he was good at.

Years went by and Tim only sought jobs that were fun and interesting. He got a job at HMV Record stores. Then he landed a job as a record representative for MCA Records. He began singing in a local jazz band as a side hustle. It seemed as if everything he put his mind to felt worthwhile. There was something inside him that was driving him forward.

Tim shifted focus from singing part-time to singing full-time. He recorded his debut album in 1995 and called it Wiseass Crooner. Before long the album was picked up on BMG Records and distributed throughout Canada. His music career began to take off. For the next 15 years he would perform at jazz clubs, theatres and for special events. He built a nice music career that was fulfilling and challenging at the same time. He was still doing what he loved and what he was good at. But he felt like he needed to learn more about his purpose.

Before long, CBC Radio 2 approached Tim to become a national radio host. After considerable thought Tim accepted the role. For 10 1/2 years he hosted a jazz radio show. It was the best friend making and learning experience of his life. But he began to wonder, “Could CBC be a lifelong career or are there other adventures to explore?”

One lazy Sunday afternoon Tim sprawled himself across the couch in the living room. He planned on turning on the TV to find a show that was just boring enough to help him fall asleep for a nap. The show he found was a furniture building competition show. Contestants were tasked with designing and building a stylish couch.

One designer created a boxy, retro green bachelor pad couch as his entry. On the back cushions he had embroidered four circles in a diamond pattern. Each circle overlapped the one next to it and all four circles came together in a confluence in the centre. The judges asked the contestant about the design. “It’s the symbol for Ikigai”, he said. “It’s a Japanese philosophy for life purpose. With Ikigai you know why you wake up in the morning.”

Ikigai is a way of life that comes with a map. It has four directions:

1. Do what you love
2. Do what you're good at
3. Do what the world needs
4. Do what you can be rewarded for

Tim was now wide awake. He removed his smartphone from his pocket and looked up “eekeeguy”, then “ikeeguy” and final “ikigai”. At that moment he learned that Ikigai came from Okinawa, Japan. Two of his grandparents were born in Okinawa. Ikigai must be part of his DNA.

Tim made it his mission to learn as much as he could about Ikigai. Over the next three years he would explore every fascination he had to zero in on his Ikigai. His contract renewal was coming up at CBC. He decided that he would not renew his contract. Instead, he would focus on Ikigai until he understood what his Ikigai is. After a lot of exploring, zeroing in and pondering his ikigai came to him: To delight.

Ikigai is a lifestyle. It’s focused on you and how your gifts can help others. If you do what you love, what you’re good at, what the world needs and what you can be rewarded for you are able to complete countless cycles of giving gifts and receiving appreciation every day. When you can participate daily with all four of these actions then you are living your full Ikigai.

What is Ikigai?

Ikigai is an ancient philosophy that comes from Okinawa, Japan. It's means to live your life's worth by putting your special gifts to work. Although the four directions for Ikigai seem simple, in reality, for most people they are elusive. Why?

There's a long list of reasons but perhaps the most important reason is money. Our society has always placed money at the most important contributor towards food, shelter, security and ego in daily life. Abraham Maslow showed this in his hierarchy of needs theory as far back as the 1940's. Happiness, as it turns out, has nothing to do with keeping us fed, sheltered, safe or successful. Maslow believed that as long as all four of these needs are met on a daily basis then happiness or self-actualization is voluntary.

Happiness can be learned

Dr. Laurie Santos at Yale University has evidence that happiness is not found through a big pay check or with a beautiful body. Santos teaches a course at Yale called The Science of Well-being. Her course is the most popular course in the 300+ year history of Yale. She provides study after study that shows how we as human beings are lousy at guessing what makes up happy. We may think that a high paying job with an important title, a beautiful body and expensive homes and cars will bring us happiness. We are sadly mistaken.

Evidence shows that happiness comes through intentional action. If you meditate, spend time with family and friends or do acts of kindness then your happiness levels go up. Furthermore, time affluence is a major contributor to well-being. When you're time affluent then it means you do with your time what you want to do with your time as often as possible. In other words, time affluence allows you to do what you love and what you're good at. Ikigai is a map for doing more you.

For most people the hardest part of Ikigai is to provide answers for the first two actions: do what you love and do what you're good at. I call these two answers your "half-Ikigai". If you would benefit from more happiness in your life it is imperative that you dedicate more time to exploring, investigating and experimenting to find answers for what you love and what you're good at. You might discover your Ikigai but then again it is possible that you might develop your Ikigai as well. Either way, without dedicating time and energy to more you everyday then your happiness will continue to remain where it is. More dangerously, it could sink lower and lower.

So my tip or trick for living with more happiness and is “Do More You!” Learn about your Ikigai.

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