Ikigai is a Japanese term meant for purpose of life. It is pronounced as Ick-ee-guy— a reason to jump out of bed each morning. Ikigai also means ‘Who am I?’ The confusion and commotion of daily life cannot be controlled, it will always be there but there is something beyond all this. Reflect on that purpose again and again at least for half minute, as soon as you wake up and before you sleep, if possible in between your chaotic day. Ask yourself, ‘Who am I?’ ‘Why am I here?’ You will soon find your reason for being here.
Ikigai (生き甲斐,) usually refers to the source of value in one’s life or the things that make one’s life worthwhile. The word roughly translates to the “thing that you live for” but it also has the tone of “the reason for which you wake up in the morning” similar to a daily purpose. Each individual’s ikigai is personal to them and specific to their lives, their values and their beliefs. It reflects the inner self of an individual. The Japanese believe strongly in their ikigai. You will find them focused and creating value to the nation, cleanliness, and their philosophy in Muda which means “futility; uselessness; wastefulness”, and is a key concept in lean process and lean management. Japanese strongly believe when waste is identified it must be reduced which is an effective way of increasing profitability.
Ikigai comes spontaneously. Individuals always undertake them willingly, giving the individual satisfaction and a sense of meaning to life. In the culture of Okinawa, a place in Japan, ikigai is thought of as “a reason to get up in the morning”; that is, a reason to enjoy life. Okinawa has pristine beaches, a distinct culture and some of the friendliest, longest-lived people on earth. They give their credit to ikigai of each individual. In a TED Talk, Dan Buettner who is a National Geographic Fellow and a New York Times bestselling author suggested ikigai as one of the reasons people in the area had such long lives.
The word ikigai usually is used to indicate the source of value in one’s life or the things that make one’s life worthwhile. Secondly, the word is used to refer to mental and spiritual circumstances under which individuals feel that their lives are valuable. Please understand that ikigai is not linked to one’s financial status. Even if a person feels that the present is dark, but they have a goal in mind, they may feel ikigai. Behaviors that make one feel ikigai are not actions one is forced to take, they come spontaneously.
Ikigai can be felt when people experience sense of belonging, also the personal maturity matters in sense what to take and what to leave, and love and happiness are essence of ikigai. According to the Japanese, everyone has an ikigai. Japanese people are friendlier and believe in a group of lifelong friends and social support group that form in order to provide varying support from social, financial, health, or spiritual interests. Also, your ikigai lies at the centre of those interconnecting circles of life. If you are lacking in one area, you are missing out on your life’s potential. Not only that, but you are missing out on your chance to live a long and happy life. The secret to a long and happy life is not to live in the hope of a great life tomorrow. It is to live with that intention today. What I love is that this is possible not only at the individual level, but entire communities can learn from it, as well. It is high time; we must go back to community living.
The Great Russian author Leo Tolstoy had it all: he came from a wealthy family of success and fame. By almost anyone’s standards, Tolstoy should have also possessed a great sense of joy, triumph, and purpose. But he did not. One thing haunted everything he did, that is death. “Is there any meaning in my life that the inevitable death awaiting me does not destroy?” he asked. Tolstoy could not shake away the feeling that the finality of his predictable death made everything in life worthless. Tolstoy wasn’t, and still isn’t alone in this sentiment.
Money cannot bring direction and purpose in life. The United States is currently perhaps the most advanced, affluent, and comfortable culture in all of human history, but at the same time it is arguably the most depressed, medicated, and directionless culture in all of human history. And, the saddest part is many countries ape the US and their culture.
Before it is late, find your ikigai to lead a peaceful life.