What is your reason for being? What is your reason to wake up in the morning? What is the source of value in your life and what makes your life worth living? What is your Ikigai?
Wikipedia describes Ikigai (pronounced Ick-ee-guy) as a Japanese concept that simply put means “a reason for being.” The word Ikigai in English roughly means “thing that you live for”.. Not coincidentally, growing research has found that having that feeling can extend and enrich your life: It cuts the risk for heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, and depression, and the resulting stress reduction has even been shown to improve your sleep quality. Each individual’s ikigai is personal to them and is specific to their lives, values and beliefs. It reflects the inner self of an individual and expresses that faithfully.
Ikigai has originated in Okinawa, Japan, a remote island to the south west of Japan, in the famously called Blue Zone. It has an unusually large population of centenarians or people who live past their 100 years. The inhabitants of this island carry the secret to longevity and vitality and a long, happy and purposeful life. In Okinawa, Ikigai is a revered tradition and is “a reason to get up in the morning”; a reason for Japanese that don’t have the desire to retire to continue to do their favorite job as long as possible if their health is good. It is also suggested that ikigai is one of the reasons people in that area live longer lives.
Ikigai is not linked to one’s financial status or the success he acquires in life but rather to one’s own purpose. Even if a person feels that the present is unfulfilling and miserable, but he still has a goal in mind, he/she may feel ikigai.
Discovering your own ikigai will lead you to fulfilment, happiness, balance and make you live longer.
So what is Ikigai and how can you find yours?
Ikigai is the convergence of four areas in your life
What you love (your passion)
What you are good at (your vocation)
What the world needs (your mission)
What you can get rewarded or paid for (your profession)
In order to find your Ikigai? Ask yourself the following four questions:
1. What do I love?
2. What am I good at?
3. What does the world need?
4. What can I be paid or rewarded for now or in the future
Reflect on each question and take your time while writing your answers.
In their book “Ikigai The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life”, Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles break down the ten rules that can help anyone find their own ikigai.
1. Stay active and don’t retire
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
The problem for millions of people is that they stop being curious about new experiences as they assume responsibilities and build routines. Their sense of wonder starts to escape them. They just carry on with their daily lives with no purpose, no passion and no sense.
But you can change that, and start looking for meaning and fulfilment in what you do daily. Follow your passion because it knows the way.
Philosopher and civil rights leader Howard W Thurman said, “Ask what makes you come alive and go do it… Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
What is the one simple thing you could do or be today that would be an expression of your ikigai? Ponder that and go do it!