Finding purpose in life can sometimes be challenging. Some days, it is tough to find a reason to even get out of bed and go to work, while some days seem gloomy.
Now, have you ever met people who are joyful and blissful wherever they go?
Ever wondered how they are like that?
Do you wish to know the secret to their happy and fulfilling life?
Let’s keep these questions aside for a while and discuss things related to you! So, have you ever consciously stopped and thought about happiness? Do you feel a sense of purpose as you wake up in the morning? Do little things bring a smile to your face?
If you answered ‘yes’ to these questions, you probably have an Ikigai – way to go! But if you replied ‘no’ or ‘maybe’ to these answers, perhaps it’s time to introduce Ikigai into your life.
In this blog, we will provide the meaning of Ikigai from Japanese and Western perspectives. We will help you understand how to use Ikigai every day and how it can help you find peace, purpose, and joy. So, hang on for a while because you will definitely find something substantial and worthwhile here!
What is Ikigai?
The Japanese word Ikigai means ‘life’s purpose’. It refers to defining your personal meaning of life with respect to your talents, abilities, professions, passions, and what you can give to the world.
People who follow this philosophy believe that following such a personalized and subtle sense of purpose can lead to a more fulfilling and long life.
Ikigai comprises of two words: ‘iki’, meaning life and ‘gai’, meaning worth. This term has recently gained popularity after the publication of Héctor García’s book Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life.
Key components of Ikigai
Awakening your Ikigai is vital as it can lead to a greater sense of fulfillment and happiness. It is a path to attain a purpose and increase life span. Ikigai resides at the intersection of multiple factors in your life. Here are the four components upon which Ikigai is based.
Besides refining your focus and purpose in life, Ikigai also helps you look outward to what the world needs. It will connect you to something greater and larger than life. Ask yourself how you can make this world a better place – it is one-fourth of what makes life worth living!
Self-Development is rewarding and challenging at the same time. In order to find the true meaning of your life, feeling a sense of joy and fulfillment (Ikigai) is as crucial as surviving. Therefore, define what you love to do the most and keep doing it for the rest of your life.
Knowing your Ikigai helps you make a difference day in and day out, personally and professionally. Finding joy and fulfillment in your work is the core element of building holistic Ikigai. Look for a career that serves the world, sparks your interest, and brings you joy.
Everyone knows the field in which they are good at! This is another integral element of Ikigai. While you are young, identify the talents you already possess and which ones you hope to develop. Spending each day doing something you love helps you live a happy and long life.
Things that bring you Ikigai
Over the years, many researchers and professionals have tried to find Ikigai. However, many have suggested that Ikigai is related to one specific goal, force, or focus. These goals/ forces can be associated with the past, present, or future, including:
- Family members
- Social status
- Future events
Any of these can encourage a person’s Ikigai, leading to several feelings of self-satisfaction like:
- Willingness to live
- Motivation to survive
- Sense of existence
- Sense of control
These feelings are known as Ikigai-kan. Many of us are aware of the forces that motivate us, but we are unaware of their effects. In Japanese culture, Ikigai is related to well-being, happiness, finding purpose, and staying strong when the going gets tough.
Now, how can you find your Ikigai? Is it that simple? These questions might be going on in your mind. Don’t worry! Let us discuss how you can easily discover your Ikigai.
How to discover your Ikigai
Ikigai isn’t an elaborate secret or a technique that can offer meaning and purpose to your life. Remember that anything that gives you joy while motivating you to move forward in life is your Ikigai.
Here is how you can find it.
1. Identify What Brings you Joy
In your entire day, notice what increases your sense of well-being. First, define the small things that you love doing on a daily basis. Then, list out such things and see if you can incorporate them into your career or not. When you know what brings you joy and how it can contribute to the world, you can feel how your Ikigai works tangibly.
2. Create a Venn Diagram
Create four overlapping circles (mission, profession, talent, and passion) and begin filling them. This Ikigai diagram will enable you to start defining and knowing your purpose in life. As you fill each circle, try to keep an eye out for commonalities and similarities that fit right in the center of the diagram. The central part is the sweet spot through which you will know your Ikigai.
3. Try New Things
Everyone can identify and experience their Ikigai in a unique way. For instance, an introvert might seek a podcast and learn about new ideas. At the same time, an extrovert might try things directly. As you know more about yourself and explore numerous opportunities, you will experience moments wherein you feel you’ve accomplished a sense of flow in life. In simpler terms, you will feel that life is perfect – the situations, people, and the job; everything is on the right track.
4. Be in the Moment
This is the common philosophy of Ikigai. Remaining focused here and now allows you to lead a calmer and carefree life. By this, we mean that bringing out your inner child and trying to appreciate every fleeting moment is essential.
You might have noticed that children are always joyful. They don’t think much about the past, present, or future. All they know is to enjoy life in the present moment. This is why being more childlike can be life-changing. We can continue to play, learn new things, be creative, and be happy without worrying about money, social status, and roles.
Challenges faced while discovering your Ikigai
It can sometimes be challenging to become aware of your Ikigai, but with little persistence, you can find yours! Here are some challenges you might face while knowing your Ikigai.
1. Feeling Overwhelmed
It is completely fine to feel overwhelmed while discovering your purpose in life. The trick is to keep moving forward and ask for support when needed.
Keep taking baby steps towards your goals, no matter how small they may seem. Always keep moving!
2. Lack of Sufficient Time
The best thing about time is that it’s malleable. So with some creativity, you can mold and organize it to suit your needs.
For instance, you can wake up an hour early to work on your passion. Or you can listen to podcasts on career development while going to college/ office. Thus, get a little creative, look for time gaps, and rearrange your schedule so that you don’t feel that the time is short and the things to do are numerous!
3. Fearful Thinking
Our brains are developed enough to protect us from danger. But the catch is that our brains can sense danger even when there isn’t any! As a result, we tend to become fearful when it comes to working towards our goals.
Putting fear in the backseat might seem challenging, but with a bit of practice, it’s possible!
Ready to know the purpose of your life?
Experiencing Ikigai means finding what triggers your happiness and devoting yourself to it wholeheartedly. The main idea is to discover small joys that make life worth living! It doesn’t have to be a big secret that will suddenly enlighten you and give you purpose.
So, take time to observe the world around you. Be grateful, look inward, and try to make the most of every moment without overthinking thoughts. That’s the key to a happier life!
Also Read: How to Begin Journaling – A must-have habit!