Devotion to Calling

Ezelle Theunissen
Posted: February 1, 2024

“Devotion” is not a word we use often. Yet it refers to a significant emotion deeply aligned with Appreciative Inquiry: Devotion is the strong feeling of love, loyalty, enthusiasm and dedication which compels one to show up.

In recent years, the Japanese notion of Ikigai has received wide attention. Loosely translated, it refers to where what we love to do; are good at; can make a living from and what the world needs, intersect.  It is our reason for getting up every morning. Studies in longevity have shown that, in addition to loving relationships, one of the key factors contributing to health over the long term is the perennial pursuit of passionate interests. One of the most popular books about longevity is “Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life,” written by Héctor García and Francesc Miralles, in which they outline their findings after spending time in Okinawa, Japan, a blue zone with the highest concentration of centenarians in the world.

WHAT IS YOUR IKIGAI?

A black chalkboard with a message that reads, I am creating the life of my dreams.Finding your ikigai is said to make life more meaningful. “There’s a passion inside you.  An unique talent that gives meaning to your days and drives you to share the best of yourself until the very end. If you don’t know what your ikigai is yet, your mission is to discover it.” Perhaps like me, a series of life events have led you to hone skills out of necessity, rather than what you’re naturally devoted to. Appreciative Inquiry can be a revelatory and liberating path to reconnect with ikigai: it cares about what makes us come alive, what we value, what our unique strengths are that enliven the communities we are part of, and who we long to be. In the words of a dearly departed friend, John O’Donohue, “in our longing lies our belonging”.

BACK TO THE BEGINNING

We have come full circle to our first post in this series for the AI facilitator, which was on Appreciative Presence. May the following questions further help guide the quest towards a life and occupation imbued with Presence and Devotion:

  • How do you reconnect with your Appreciative Presence?
  • Is there a contemplative or embodiment practice / ritual you do daily?
  • What are the seemingly small, positive habits you practice faithfully?
  • How may this provide the ground from which to re-awaken your ikigai?
  • What are you devoted to, that you perennially bring your care and attention to with love?
  • Who are the people who really see you for who you are? Who do they see?
  • What or who is it that you effortlessly and consistently show up for?
  • In the past year, recall a specific event or activity that made you feel alive, engaged, connected and filled with purpose. What does this say about who you are called to be in the world?
  • How would you like to answer this calling?
  • What does success mean to you, in the light of devotion?
  • What implication, if any, does devotion have for our work as AI facilitators?

We hope you’ve enjoyed this 6-part series “for the AI facilitator”. Please share your comments, suggestions, questions, stories and wishes in the comments below.

ADDITIONAL ARTICLES IN THE  ‘FOR THE AI FACILITATOR’ SERIES:

Ezelle Theunissen is a community psychologist and coach supporting individuals, teams and organizations align their values, strengths and unique lived experiences towards making a meaningful difference in the world. Social and environmental justice are close to her heart and she favors whole systems and person-centered approaches.

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