Spiritual leader Acharya Ryojun Shionuma speaks about how to tap into your inner child and find happiness in daily life.
*Please click CC (字幕) for English subtitles.

Career success is about more than balance sheets and a killer strategy for global expansion. Without inner fulfillment, no amount of money or achievement will bring you happiness. And yet, the harder you work to climb the ladder to financial security (and even the job of your dreams), the easier it can be to lose sight of what actually makes you happy.

Of course, the key to happiness varies somewhat from person to person, but there are many doors that can open the way. For many (including Steve Jobs) ancient Japanese philosophies such as Zen and concepts such as ikigai and kokorzashi provided that critical first step on their journey. Unlocking the soft powers of art, design thinking, and mindful communication can help carry you on your way when you face seemingly insurmountable odds to achieving happiness.

Wake up in the morning and pray heartedly with folded hands, “I hope I have a great day today.” It is very simple. We only do good things and don’t do bad things. And at night, if you had a peaceful day, say, “Thank you very much” with all your heart.

Ryojun Shionuma, Spiritual Zen Leader

Shionuma is a source of Zen wisdom and spirituality for some of Japan’s top leaders in government, business, and academia. His insights provide guidance in this frenzied age of technology and global upheaval. This video is an excerpt of his presentation at the 2018 ASKA Conference.

According to Shionuma, the secret to happiness is simple: embrace your inner child.


In the past, like most people, I used to get really annoyed and ask, “Why is this happening?” or think “I hate this!” But now, 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, I’m always happy. Really always happy.

Somehow, just by being happy, that sense of contentment seems to build up, and all my negativity disappears. [Happiness] fills my heart. Then, bit by bit, I begin to feel like a child again. Like a child who just gets to play day by day.

Now, we all feel stress and pressure, right? In my case, in situations like this, speaking in front of a few hundred people, I used to feel a lot of stress and pressure. But now, it just feels like my inner child is running around and playing.

For example, today, I came here on the bullet rain from Sendai. But even when traveling is rough, my inner child is running and playing. Thinking of it that way, living my life that way, I just feel happier.

That’s how I’m able to feel happy every day. But there’s one other thing… Seeing happiness in the people around me makes me even happier. It may seem like an afterthought, but that is how I have come to feel.

Want to learn more about how to bring happiness, mindfulness, and fulfillment to your professional life? Try arranging your career goals around a kokorozashi (personal mission) or learn about some other Japanese concepts such as yomeigaku.

It’s easy to feel despondent and imagine these things don’t apply to you. But remember: while the core of ancient wisdom remains the same as it did centuries ago, it persists today because it remains relevant on some level—for everyone.

Famous leaders like Steve Jobs and tech-native young entrepreneurs aren’t the only ones who can make a difference. Find a way to define and embrace what happiness means to you, and your career will take on new meaning like you never imagined—or perhaps always dreamed—it would.

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