Ikigai – It sounds like an exotic term and may well be something you’ve never heard of. Many people live their lives without finding deeper meaning in their routines, or, like the Japanese would say, without finding their ikigai (pronounced “Ee-Key-Guy”).
Ikigai is a traditional Japanese school of thought that has been developed to shape the way Japanese people live. Some authors have argued that it is the reason for their longevity and happiness. Ikigai can be translated into your “reason for being”. “Iki” in Japanese means “life” and “ga” means value or worth. Essentially, it is what gives your life meaning and purpose – the very thing that motivates you to get out of bed every single day.
Ikigai is important for a number of reasons. First, knowing yours means that you are able to design your ideal work lifestyle as you can find an area of work in which you are good at, and are passionate about. This in turn gives you professional satisfaction, which is a key factor in determining why Japanese people live the longest out of all nationalities. Secondly, finding your own Ikigai allows you to feel a sense of community and create strong social networks at work. Ikigai is a concept that encompasses a sense of “contribution”- to the community, your environment and the people around you. To find it involves giving something back to people around you. Studies have shown that people who feel a greater sense of community and belonging live longer than those who don’t.
Finally, having Ikigai helps to create a sense of “flow” in your life. Hungarian–American psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi writes that flow occurs when you are in your “zone”, which happens when you are performing at your best whether it be at work or at rest. Finding a flow or rhythm in life helps you to achieve your best in anything you do, including study, with the possible benefit of bringing value to other people’s lives.
If you haven’t found something you are passionate about, why not write down a list of everything under the different elements of Ikigai to learn more about yourself? Searching for it will likely give you greater happiness and motivation in everything you do.