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What is Ikigai?

Updated: May 9

Ikigai Meaning
Ikigai Samurai Wordcloud

Part of human nature is questioning reality and asking "What is life all about?" This timeless query is often the result of pursuing happiness, which can feel like an endless chase. It's not just about fleeting moments of joy but about finding a deeper sense of purpose and fulfillment that sustains us through life's ups and downs. The Japanese concept of Ikigai offers an insightful perspective. Let’s dive in deeper! 

Ikigai Kanji
Ikigai in Kanji

What is Ikigai? 

Ikigai roughly translates to "reason for being" or "finding joy through purpose."  It's a concept deeply rooted in Japanese culture, and its origin is said to be traced to Okinawa, a Japanese island known for its high concentration of centenarians and a remarkably healthy, vibrant, and  elderly population. 

Ikigai isn't just about pursuing one aspect of life at the expense of others; it's about finding harmony and balance among these four fundamental elements:

1. What you love (Passion): This encompasses the activities and pursuits that ignite your soul, bring you joy, and make you lose track of time.

2. What you are good at (Vocation): Your vocation represents your talents, skills, and strengths—those things that come naturally to you and in which you excel.

3. What the world needs (Mission): Your mission is your contribution to the world, the ways in which you can make a positive impact, and serve others.

4. What you can be paid for (Profession): Your profession involves the activities for which you can earn a living, providing financial stability and security. 

What is Ikigai?

Take a look at the Venn diagram above. The sweet spot where they all intersect is your Ikigai—the essence of your being, your raison d'être.

Finding your Ikigai is a journey of self-discovery, reflection, and exploration. Here are some steps to help you along the way:

Reflect on your passions: What activities bring you joy and fulfillment? What makes you feel alive and energized? Take note of the things that you love to do, whether it's writing, painting, teaching, or helping others.

Identify your strengths: What are you naturally good at? What skills and talents do you possess? Consider the things that come easily to you and the areas where others have praised your abilities.

Consider the needs of the world: How can you contribute to the greater good? What issues or causes resonate with you? Think about the ways in which you can make a positive impact on your community, society, or the world at large.

Explore potential professions: What careers or paths align with your passions, strengths, and mission? Research different fields, industries, and opportunities that allow you to monetize your skills and talents while fulfilling your purpose.

Find the overlap: Use the Venn diagram analogy to visualize the intersection of your passions, strengths, mission, and profession. Look for patterns, connections, and overlapping areas which  point towards your Ikigai.

Once you've discovered your Ikigai, it's essential to integrate it into your daily life and decisions. Make choices that align with your purpose, prioritize activities that bring you joy and fulfillment, and find ways to serve others to make a positive impact. Remember that Ikigai isn't static; it evolves over time as you grow, learn, and experience new things. Embrace the journey, stay true to yourself, and let your Ikigai guide you towards a life filled with meaning and purpose.

Even if the world seems chaotic and uncertain, ikigai offers a guiding light—a sense of purpose and fulfillment that can illuminate our path through life. By embracing the principles of Ikigai and the Code of Bushido, aligning our passions, strengths, mission, and profession, we can unlock the secret to a more meaningful existence. So, take the time to explore your inner-most desires, discover what truly matters to you, and embark on the journey towards your Ikigai—the joy of living your best life!



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