What I love

What I Love Workshop

Aim & Context

What is the aim of the exercise?

Discovering what we fundamentally, really love. This is part of the Ikigai and will be a useful component to explore in its completion.

In what context is this exercise useful?

By understanding better what we love, we can adapt our activities accordingly and find the sweet spot of the Ikigai.

Quick facts

Preparation time: 15 min, if only reading all content of workshop and preparing for it. Alternatively, about 90 minutes, as ideally, facilitator should do this exercise before workshop to provide examples.

Workshop time: 90 minutes

Ideal group size: Mostly individual exercises, size does not matter so much. Maybe keep it relatively small.

Contact of Workshop Developer: mathieu.shanks@gmail.com

Equipment and tools needed:

  • Papers

  • Pens

  • Thinking / focus music

  • Something to play music (e.g., speakers, laptop)

Detailed Description of Activity & Method

Please list step by step how the activity should be facilitated

Activity & Format



Facilitation Notes


5 min

  • Introduction of facilitators

  • Present agenda

  • If a small group, check-in on participants mood, expectations, or other.

  • Get people to ‘arrive’ in the space. This will be a highly introspective session and participants will need full presence. Ask them to get comfortable, turn off any distractions. Take 3 deep breaths.

Start with answering the check-in question by yourself and let everyone share and then hand the word over to someone else.

Introspective discovery of ‘what I love’ – Natural inclinations

30 min

  • Explain what are ‘natural inclinations’ with the description provided below

For this exercise, participants will need a pen and paper to write down what’s going through their mind.

They should think about themselves as a child between ages of 4-8 years old. Ask them to close their eyes. They should write their thoughts as they come.

  • Imagine your younger self. Where are you? It could be at home, outside, in the school yard...

  • What are you doing?

Go through the following, give about 5 minutes between asking the following question:

  • What were you naturally drawn to?

  • What did you enjoy doing most?

  • What did you like most about those things?

  • Were there things you liked to do that others didn't like to do as much?

  • What made you different?

While people are thinking and writing, I suggest playing some calm focus music.

Introspective discovery of ‘what I love’ – Flow state and peak experiences

25 min

  • Explain what the ‘state of flow’ is and ‘peak experiences’.

For this exercise, participants must think about a peak experience they have lived and situations where they experience a ‘state of flow’. Give about 2-3 minutes between each question to allow time for participants to think and write.

Ask them the following (peak experience):

  • Think back at what you could describe as one/the best moment in your life.

  • Why was this moment so good?

  • What did you do to get to that moment / that achievement?

  • What did you enjoy most of the process to get there and of the specific moment?

Ask them the following (flow state):

  • What do you like doing the most in your free time and at work/studies?

  • Think about a moment where you are ‘in the zone’ or in the ‘flow’.

  • What characterizes this situation?

  • What do you love the most about this situation?

While people are thinking and writing, I suggest playing some calm focus music.

Connecting the dots

15 min

Ask participants to take the following 15 minutes to look back at what they wrote.

  • Can they see patterns between the written information?

  • What are the main similarities and differences between their younger self, their peak experience, flow state and now?

  • Can they group the components of what they love in 5-10 main categories? (e.g., helping people, organizing things, communicating with people, performing a sport or an art, working on a specific task, etc.)

Give about 5 minutes for each question.

While people are thinking and writing, I suggest playing some calm focus music.

Sharing with a peer

10 min

Ask participants to group in pairs and discuss their findings.

  • What results did they get?

  • What patterns did they find?

  • What stands out the most?

Participants have about 5 minutes each to share with the other


5 min

  • Debrief activity, ask them if they enjoyed it, gather quick feedback.

  • Provide logistical info about next planned workshop (if any)

  • Check-out suggestion if small group: Get each person to say how they feel in one word after this workshop

  • Thank people for joining. Invite people to retry this exercise at home and see if they get different results.

Feedforward: Tips for future facilitators

Please contact us at leap@oikos-international.org to share your feedback ! (copy-paste the URL of this page in this email so we know which page you're talking about) 👍

Resources (Helpful websites or books for further reading)

Necessary background knowledge:

Natural inclinations are generally related to things that we naturally gravitate towards as a child, before we our parents and society ‘tells us’ what is right or wrong, and what we ‘should’ be doing. Inspired from the book ‘Mastery’ from Robert Greene, the author discussed the concept of natural inclinations. He argues that each person is born with specific interests and natural skills that they can excel in if they develop them with time. These can be discovered at different times in one’s life. It is therefore important to cover this aspect as soon as possible and attempt to highlight people’s natural inclinations so they and the world around them can benefit from these. Robert Green explains that understanding and leveraging one’s natural inclinations is the first step towards mastery. This is mainly because, if you are naturally drawn towards something and you enjoy doing that more than anything else, you can sustain practice in this aspect and deepen you skill, and understanding of this specific thing, as to eventually become a master on that subject/art/sport/profession/activity.

For some people, this is ‘easier’ to discover than others. For instance, Green’s natural inclination is writing. For others it could be painting, playing music, making people laugh, cooking, doing a specific sport. These can also relate to activities or tasks that you gravitate towards as a child. Examples of this could be helping others, doing a specific sport or art, providing guidance, teaching, organizing things, making new friends, observing, learning about something specific, exploring, mediating, solving conflicts, leading, understanding how things work, etc. By combining such components, it can help you define more accurately what you love, and why.

State of ‘flow’ is also known as ‘being in the zone’. It’s a mental state where you feel fully immersed, feeling energized focus, involved, and enjoying the activity or task at hand. In this situation, you are in complete absorption with what you are doing. Time often feels like it ‘disappears’ when you are in this state (distortion of temporal experience). Such an activity usually feels intrinsically rewarding.

Listen to the inventor of the concept here: https://www.ted.com/talks/mihaly_csikszentmihalyi_flow_the_secret_to_happiness

Peak experiences are situations in which you felt at your best, you might qualify them as some of the best moments in your life.

‘’Such peak experiences are often associated with self-actualization and an intense "flow" state. According to Abraham Maslow, a peak experience includes such states as " a sense of wonder, awe, reverence, humility, surrender, and even worship before the greatness of the experience", where reality is perceived with experiences of "truth, goodness, beauty, wholeness, aliveness, uniqueness, perfection, pure potential, completion, justice, simplicity, richness, effortlessness, playfulness, self-sufficiency". (Taken from: https://www.thebrightpath.com/en/peak-experiences/)

Additional exercise / do at home after workshop:

Imagine if your doctor tells you that you now have 3 months to live before sudden death:

  • Think about what would you keep on doing?

  • And what you would stop?

  • Are there similarities with what you found during the ‘What I Love’ workshop?

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