Body & Mind

Ikigai – Find Your Life’s Purpose

On the Japanese island of Okinawa, people live among the longest in the world. Their secret? Living according to ikigai and thereby constantly maintaining their happiness. Are you curious? Go on and read further…

ikigaiBikini, Calzedonia: Top & Bottom

What is ikigai?

Ikigai is a Japanese word for describing the pleasure and meaning of life. The word consists of ‘iki” – to live and ‘gai’ – reason. Ikigai means finding your reason to jump out of your bed every morning. It can also be described as your ‘purpose in life’. Having ikigai in your life leads to ultimate satisfaction and fulfilment. Ken Mogi in his book “The Little Book of Ikigai” says “Having ikigai can literally transform your life. You can live longer, have good health, become happier, more satisfied, and less stressed. In addition, and as a by product of ikigai, you may even become more creative and successful.” You can experience all these benefits of ikigai, if you learn to appreciate this philosophy of life and apply it daily.


How to find your ikigai in your professional life?

Finding ikigai requires a journey of self discovery. But we can start with a very easy exercise. Grab a piece of paper and divide it in 4 parts. Answer these four questions:

  1. WHAT DO YOU LOVE?, e.g. Dancing, Family, Writing
  2. WHAT ARE YOU GOOD AT? e.g. Writing, Teaching
  3. WHAT CAN YOU BE PAID FOR? e.g. Teaching
  4. WHAT DOES THE WORLD NEED? e.g. Educated people, peace

The areas where your answers overlap will show you your professional ikigai or at least will help you determine your direction in your career life. It’s worth to repeat this exercise from time to time to see if your priorities haven’t changed.

This graphic might help you understand the concept of ikigai better.


How to find ikigai in your private life?

The above example and graph show the search of ikigai in your professional life, where the income factor plays a relevant role. However, it is important to remember, that ikigai can apply to big achievements and to small everyday things too. It is possible to achieve ikigai without necessarily focusing on your professional life. It can be taking care of your children, being a member of a hobby choir, travelling the world, gaining knowledge in the field of your interests. Ikigai celebrates the diversity of life and in a democratic way makes all its parts important and balanced. It shows that your job can be as important as your after work activities. Having ikigai can result in a success, but success is not a basis of having ikigai.



Closer to your ikigai – small things, big difference

What might help get you started to unlock your ikigai is to follow these 10 rules outlined in Garcia’s and Miralle’s bookIkigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life“. I’ve hyperlinked some of their rules with articles, so you can explore the concept even more and get inspired:

1. Stay active and don’t retire too soon
2. Leave urgency behind and adopt a slower pace of life
3. Only eat until you are 80 per cent full
4. Surround yourself with good friends
5. Get in shape through daily, gentle exercise
6. Smile and acknowledge people around you
7. Reconnect with nature
8. Give thanks to anything that brightens our day and makes us feel alive.
9. Live in the moment
10. Follow your ikigai


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