Ikigai (ee-key-guy) is a Japanese philosophy that translates to “the meaning of your life.” This concept of ikigai has gained worldwide notoriety through TED Talks, books, and resources. It is one of the ingredients to longevity, as referenced in the Blue Zones by Dan Buettner. Many experts credit Ikigai as the secret to a long life filled with joy and purpose.
For Heather Harris, the Life Enrichment Director at a Sequoia Living community, ikigai is a “reason for being.” She first became intrigued with ikigai while working as a singer in Japan. Heather’s career journey from theater to hospitality led her to working in senior living where she found purpose and her reason for being.
“A large part of my job is creating experiences that educate, entertain, and inspire,” said Heather who encourages people in her community to find their ikigai. She applies this philosophy to the programs she creates for residents. Heather explained, “Oftentimes, people have this perception that moving into an active aging community is the last chapter of their lives.” Heather has a different perception. “I think of it more as a next chapter offering new experiences and friendships along with unforeseen possibilities.”
Heather recognizes that having a sense of purpose and meaning in life is important for everyone, regardless of age. By prioritizing the cultivation of ikigai among residents, life enrichment programs promote individual well-being while contributing to a more vibrant and engaged community.
Recently, Heather started a women’s group inspired by National Women’s Month. The group meets bi-weekly, and nearly 20 women between the ages of 70 to 99 attend. Group members discuss their life experiences, challenges, and struggles. They are given a safe, non-judgmental space to discuss various aspects of their life’s journey. This allows these women to get to know each other on a deeper level.
The women’s group, based in ikigai, was created to foster deeper connections and a sense of community.
Unleashing the power of Ikigai
Heather is a nationally certified personal trainer and group exercise instructor. Understanding the importance of exercise for your body and brain is her area of expertise. Heather often combines memory, movement, and vocal exercises for a fun fitness activity promoting neuroplasticity.
“I am a firm believer that attitude is everything when it comes to aging,” said Heather. She envisions a world where people of all ages are valued and heard. For over two decades, she has continued to empower older adults to find new ways to grow. “Getting older is an opportunity to Never Stop Growing.”
At Sequoia Living, find your ikigai and live a purpose-filled life.