What is the meaning of Ikigai?

Ikigai is a Japanese word which translates into meaning “a reason to live” or a “reason to get up in the morning”.

There is an island on Japan’s southernmost region called Okinawa, and here some of the longest living Japanese people live. The people on this island believe that if you keep yourself busy doing the things you love and asking questions of yourself, giving you a sense of purpose, it will lead to a more full filled and purposeful life.

Book on Ikigai

Ikigai is broken down into four questions or areas of your life that you should ask yourself.

Firstly, what do you love? That is if you didn’t have to work and make money, which path would your heart follow?

Secondly, what are you good at? This for many is an easier question to answer as it is a practical question with less emotion attached. You may have a passion to create something or do a certain job which you believe you will be great at, but you may be better at organising or managing people to do the things you are passionate about and this would become your vocation.

Thirdly and this is where the question becomes more difficult is, what does the world need from you? How do you think you can contribute to the world and make it matter. Also, aking questions of yourself like why are you here on earth? can you achieve something that will help others and make you socially important, and help make the world a better place?

Sometimes others will see things in you and value them when you don’t see them yourself, so reflect on how others perceive you and how that may help your society.

Finally, the fourth question is probably the easiest to answer, what can you get paid for? What occupation have you got? What value do you bring to your job that helps and assists your company in working well.

These questions are set as a way of getting your “Ikigai”, which is an equal balance in your life, pursuing your passion, enjoying your life with the least stress and anxiety possible. If you find the right combination of doing what you love, being paid for it and helping other as well as yourself reaching where you want to be, it may enhance your life and your health for longer.

If you would like to learn more about the subject, then the excellent ‘Ikigai: The Japanese secret to a long and happy life‘ book is a great place to start.