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What motivates you to jump out of bed every morning and chase after your dreams?
For centuries, humanity has grappled with this quintessential life question. And now, the Japanese concept of ikigai has captured the hearts of people all over the globe.
Today I will help you unlock ikigai meaning, enabling you to learn how to uncover your unique life purpose.
Get ready to embark on an exciting journey of self-discovery and explore the beauty of one of the most inspiring philosophies on earth.
Ready to expand your horizons?
Ikigai meaning, history, and misconceptions
Ikigai is a beautiful term that has gained popularity worldwide because of its simple yet profound meaning.
So, what exactly is ikigai?
Ikigai (生き甲斐, “ee-kee-guy”) is a Japanese concept that (roughly) translates to “a reason for being” or “a reason to wake up in the morning.”
Specifically, it is a combination of two Japanese words: “iki,” meaning “life,” and “gai” meaning “value or worth.”
It’s about finding balance and harmony in all aspects of your life, including work, family, hobbies, and relationships, finding your unique path in life, and living it to the fullest.
The beauty of ikigai is that it’s different for everyone. Your personal ikigai may be teaching, writing, cooking, or simply spending time with your loved ones. The key is identifying what makes you truly happy and pursuing it passionately and purposefully.
The history of this ancient Japanese philosophy
Believed to be first used in a poem by a zen monk, Kokan Shiren, in the 13th century, the term ikigai has its roots in Okinawa, the southernmost prefecture of Japan, known for its high life expectancy.
Centuries later, in the 1960s, the Japanese government began infusing Japanese culture with the concept of ikigai to promote a healthier and more fulfilling lifestyle. During this time, the term began to gain popularity and become more widely recognized in Japan, further stimulated by psychiatrist Mieko Kamiya first popularized it in her 1966 book ikigai ni Tsuite – (生きがいについて – On the meaning of life).
Today, the philosophy of ikigai has spread far beyond Japan and has become a popular concept in the Western world. Unsurprisingly, people are drawn to it, as it provides a simple and effective way for human beings to find purpose and meaning in life.
Setting common straight misconceptions about the ikigai meaning
There are many misconceptions about the ikigai philosophy floating around the internet. By dispelling these misconceptions and embracing the true nature of ikigai, we can tap into our deepest desires and values and create a fufilling life that truly reflects who we are.
So before we discover your ikigai, I want to clarify these and explain what the philosophy is not.
- It is not solely about finding your passion: It’s equally important to identify our strengths, values, and the needs of the world around us and find a way to bring all of these elements together meaningfully. Doing so can create a holistic vision reflecting our deepest desires and values.
- It is not solely applicable to career and money: We can also find our ikigai in our hobbies, relationships, and other areas that bring us joy and meaning. As women, we are often juggling multiple roles and responsibilities, and it’s important to cultivate a sense of purpose and fulfillment across all areas of our lives.
- It is not a fixed destination: It’s a dynamic and evolving process that requires ongoing reflection and adjustment. We can live a life of purpose and meaning by remaining open to change and growth, even as our circumstances shift.
Why pursue ikigai
If this all sounds a bit woowoo, let me show you the tangible benefits of practicing ikigai.
Scientific studies have proven that pursuing your ikigai can improve mental and physical health, increase longevity, and provide a greater sense of overall wellbeing. In addition, it helps reduce stress and inflammation, boost the immune system, and promote a sense of purpose and meaning in life.
- One study found that having a sense of ikigai was associated with a lower risk of all-cause mortality and mortality from cardiovascular disease and stroke in middle-aged and elderly Japanese adults.
- Another study found that having a sense of ikigai was associated with better mental health and higher health-related quality of life in Japanese adults.
- A third study analyzed autobiographical narratives from Japanese adults and found that those who reported a strong sense of ikigai had greater life satisfaction and better mental health.
Let’s dig deeper into the tangible benefits.
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5 benefits of embracing ikigai
From enhancing our sense of purpose to improving our overall wellbeing, ikigai has the potential to enrich our lives in countless ways. So, let’s delve into the beauty of the word ikigai and discover how it can help us live a more fulfilling, joyful, and purposeful, long, and happy life.
Research has shown that finding and pursuing your ikigai can profoundly affect your overall wellbeing.
On the mental front, having a sense of ikigai has been linked to greater life satisfaction, reduced stress and anxiety levels, and improved mental health.
From a physical perspective, studies have found that people with a strong sense of ikigai tend to have lower levels of inflammation and a reduced risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. They also tend to have higher physical activity levels and better sleep quality.
Pursuing our ikigai can align our passions with our daily activities, leading to a greater sense of harmony and balance.
We often find ourselves pulled in many directions, struggling to juggle our commitments and responsibilities. However, when we identify our ikigai, we can focus our time and energy on the things that truly matter to us, letting go of the things that don’t serve us or our greater purpose.
As a bonus, embracing your ikigai can also help you find more balance in your emotional life. When we have a sense of purpose and direction, we can better manage our emotions and handle the ups and downs of everyday life with greater ease.
When we have a sense of purpose and passion, we are naturally more motivated to take action toward our goals and dreams.
Ikigai can help us overcome obstacles and challenges that might otherwise derail our motivation, reminding us why we started in the first place and giving us the resilience and determination to keep going.
Personifying your ikigai can also help you tap into your creativity and innovation, leading to new ideas and inspiration that fuel your motivation, fresh perspectives, and innovative solutions to problems.
Research has shown that having a sense of purpose and meaning in our lives can significantly impact longevity.
By embracing our Ikigai, studies have shown that we are more likely to care for ourselves and our bodies, leading to better physical health and a longer, happier life. For example, we can make better choices regarding our health, such as eating a healthy diet, getting enough exercise, and avoiding harmful behaviors like smoking and excessive drinking.
Expansion of spiritual connection
We can tap into a sense of inner wisdom and intuition that can guide us toward a greater sense of spiritual fulfillment.
When we pursue our ikigai, we are often drawn towards activities and pursuits that are meaningful and uplifting, such as volunteering, creative expression, or connecting with nature. We are also more likely to cultivate a sense of gratitude, leading to a greater connection to the beauty and wonder of the world around us.
These experiences can help us connect with something larger than ourselves, such as the community, the environment, or a higher power. A greater sense of inner peace, clarity, and understanding, helping us connect more deeply with our inner selves and the divine.
The road to discovering your ikigai
Finding your ikigai can be a profoundly transformative and rewarding experience. But it can also be complex.
However, the ikigai diagram is one helpful tool that can assist you in discovering your purpose.
The first step is filling out the four outer circles of the Venn diagram.
- What do you love: What activities or topics do you love? What lights you up and brings you joy?
- What you’re good at: What skills or natural abilities do you possess? What are you good at?
- What you are paid for: What type of environment do you thrive in? What are your goals and aspirations? Do you have a dream job?
- What the world needs What are the problems or needs you see in the world? What are the areas where you can make a positive impact?
Intersections of two outer circles
Next, fill in the intersections using your answers from the outer circles.
The intersection between what you love and what the world needs is your “mission.”
It’s the space where we can use our talents and interests to positively impact and create a better future for ourselves and others.
This can take many forms – maybe you’re passionate about environmental sustainability, social justice, or education.
Whatever your mission may be, it’s about finding ways to use your talents and passions to address a real need in the world and to make a positive impact on the lives of others.
The intersection between what you love and what you’re good at is your “passion.”
The place where our natural talents and our deepest desires meet. Where we feel most alive, most inspired, and most fulfilled.
This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to turn your hobby into a dream career, although that can be fulfilling. Instead, it’s more about incorporating your passions into your daily life, whether through a creative side hustle, volunteering in a cause you care about, or pursuing a hobby that brings you joy.
The intersection between what you’re good at and what you’re paid for is your “profession.”
It’s where you can use your natural abilities to excel in your career and create a meaningful impact.
This component of ikigai is not just about finding a job that pays well but about finding a career that allows you to use your skills and expertise to create value and make an impact. It’s about identifying your unique abilities and finding ways to apply them in a fulfilling and financially sustainable way.
You may be a natural problem solver, a gifted communicator, or an analytical thinker. Whatever your strengths, there’s a profession out there that can benefit from your talents.
The intersection between what you’re paid for and what the world needs is your “vocation.”
This is where true fulfillment and life purpose lie, where your unique gifts and talents can make a meaningful contribution to the world around you.
Whether you are on a traditional career path or pursuing entrepreneurship, the vocation component of ikigai is about finding ways to align your skills and passions with the needs of others. It’s about using your talents to address the challenges and opportunities in your community, your industry, or the world.
This can involve many possibilities – from working in a non-profit organization to creating a socially conscious business to pursuing a career in education or healthcare. What matters is that you use your unique gifts and talents to impact others positively.
Intersection of all four circles
The center of the diagrams represents your ikigai.
This is the sweet spot where your passions, talents, values, and world needs overlap, where you can find your unique purpose and meaning in life.
Keep up the momentum
Congratulations on discovering your ikigai! You have found the sweet spot where your passions, talents, values, and world needs intersect.
Now, the question is, how do you keep up the momentum and stay motivated to live your ikigai every day?
Here are some tips to help you maintain the enthusiasm and energy for your purposeful life.
- Create a routine: Incorporate your ikigai into your daily routine. Make time for the activities that align with your purpose and bring you joy. This could be as simple as setting aside a few minutes each morning to meditate or journal about your ikigai.
- Stay curious: Keep learning and exploring new ideas related to your ikigai. Read books, attend workshops, and engage with like-minded individuals.
- Celebrate your wins: Acknowledge and celebrate the small wins and progress you make towards living your ikigai. This can provide motivation and a sense of accomplishment, fueling your drive to continue.
- Surround yourself with support: Surround yourself with individuals who support and encourage you on your journey toward living your ikigai. These individuals can offer guidance, advice, and a listening ear when needed.
- Stay present: Stay present at the moment and focus on what you are doing. This can help you fully immerse yourself in the activities that align with your ikigai and increase your enjoyment.
Remember, living your ikigai is a journey, not a destination. It requires ongoing effort, dedication, and commitment. However, the rewards of living a purposeful and meaningful life are immeasurable.
Learn from the experts
If you’re looking to explore the philosophy of ikigai further, there are several books available that can help you deepen your understanding and inspire you on your journey toward discovering your purpose.
Here are three top-selling books that explain ikigai. These books are filled with inspiring stories, practical exercises, and insightful wisdom to help you unlock your own ikigai and live a more meaningful and purposeful life.
By Héctor García and Francesc Miralles, this book delves into the Japanese concept of ikigai and how it can be applied to one’s life. It explores the four pillars of ikigai: passion, mission, vocation, and profession, and provides practical tips and exercises to help readers discover their own ikigai.
By Héctor García and Francesc Miralles, this book expands on the concept of ikigai and explores another Japanese philosophy called Ichigo Ichie, which means “one encounter, one opportunity.” The book teaches readers how to live in the present moment and make the most of every opportunity in everyday life.
By Ken Mogi, this book provides an in-depth exploration of the philosophy of ikigai and its applications to daily life. It draws on scientific research and real-life examples to show how purposeful living can lead to greater happiness and fulfillment in life.
Ikigai Meaning & Purpose Embodied
We have explored the fascinating concept of ikigai and its meaning.
We discovered that when we combine four elements (what we are good at, what the world needs, and what we can be paid for), we can find our unique ikigai and live a much more fulfilling life.
As you continue to find your ikigai, remember that it is never too late to start and that the process is just as important as the outcome.
Embrace the challenges, the setbacks, and the opportunities that come your way, and trust that by staying true to yourself and your passions, you will eventually find your unique purpose and meaning in life.
Want help defining and personifying your ikiga? I got you! Join my program, Wealth On Purpose, and you’ll be well on your way to building a life you’ve only dreamed of.