We have continuously sought the optimal combination of happiness, purpose, and success in our daily lives. While some may have discovered that balance quickly, others are still working on it. Have you ever wondered where your life is going when you’ve done some self-reflection? What is your life’s purpose? What is the root of your pleasure and happiness?

Figuring out the best path to happiness and success might feel like a riddle at times. It is very easy to feel lost in life and not know where you are going. But did you know that the Japanese have already worked out how to strike the perfect mix of purpose, pleasure, and success? It’s known as Ikigai. But what exactly does Ikigai mean? Here, we’ll delve into what this notion entails and provide you with some pointers on locating your Ikigai.

What is Ikigai?

According to Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles’ book Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life, Ikigai approximately translates to “the happiness of always being occupied” and extends beyond a person’s search for life.

When you search for Ikigai online, you’ll discover that this Japanese notion of finding your purpose also refers to “a cause for existence.” The name is a combination of two words: iki, which means “life,” and kai (pronounced gai), which means “value.” It refers to the source of worth in someone’s life, something that provides them with a sense of purpose and satisfaction.

A person’s Ikigai might be anything, such as a passion, a desire, or a goal. It is something that motivates you to get out of bed every morning. It is what drives you to keep going and to accomplish something in search of that Ikigai. Some people can quickly determine what their Ikigai is. Others, on the other hand, may still be on the lookout.

Given the state of the world and how we spend our lives today, finding pleasure and meaning in life may not always appear straightforward. If you have yet to discover your Ikigai, then it is essential that you first understand what factors to consider to define your entire reason for being.

Why is Ikigai important?

Many sociologists, academicians, and journalists have investigated and speculated the usefulness and truth of this specific phenomenon, and they have reached a lot of highly intriguing findings. According to one notion, Ikigai can help you live longer and more purposefully.

In September 2017, the famous Japanese TV show Takeshi no Katei no igaku collaborated with scientists to study in the tiny hamlet of Kyotango in Kyoto. This community takes pride in having three times the number of citizens over the age of 100 than the rest of the country.

The show sought to investigate what these old happy individuals had in common in their everyday lives, so they followed seven people in their late 90s and early 100s about from morning ’till dawn, taking blood tests and other health check-ups.

What they discovered was that all seven patients had extremely high levels of DHEA, a steroid hormone generated by the adrenal glands that many think is the magical “longevity hormone.”

Surprisingly, when the show followed those men and women about, they discovered one thing they all had in common: a pastime they did every day, and we were passionate about. One woman in her late 90s was observed crafting traditional Japanese masks every day, another guy painted, and another went fishing every day.

While the link between having a pastime you enjoy and an increase in DHEA has yet to be confirmed scientifically, the programme stated that having this one thing that keeps you motivated, focused, and satisfied in life may raise your young DHEA hormone, leading to a longer and happier life.

Where is Ikigai Practiced?

Okinawa, Japan’s southernmost island, has one of the highest proportions of centenarians to population. Okinawa is also a hotspot for Ikigai thought. The island’s active community of non-retiring, purpose-driven people, connects them to other long-living communities in Sardinia, Italy, and Icaria, Greece.

Dan Buettner, a writer, published Blue Zones: Lessons on Living Longer from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest in 2010. He investigated locations throughout the globe with the longest-living populations. While they may use a different term, he noticed that Ikigai, or having a “purpose in life,” was a decisive unifying factor.

Hector Garcia, a writer who has published several books on this topic, including Ikigai: The Secret to a Long and Happy Life, published in English last year, feels that Ikigai should not be limited to the old. It is now more popular than ever among young people both inside and outside of Japan.

“We discovered that one of the keys to the book’s popularity is the timing of the term ‘Ikigai.'” He claims that it is gaining popular momentum at a critical juncture in history, “particularly among younger generations seeking greater purpose in their lives.”

What’s your Ikigai?

Garcia claims in his book that understanding the Ikigai worldview has affected the way he plans his days.

“I’ve adjusted my morning routine so that I may start my days doing what is most essential to me before becoming distracted by others.” In other words, he prioritises the tasks that provide him with meaning. “This means I’ll have a cup of green tea, perform 15 minutes of basic yoga postures, and then write for an hour.” Before going, I prioritised my health and one of the hobbies that bring Ikigai to my life: writing books.”

Though it may appear to be a career-oriented term, Ikigai is not necessarily about money. Having a pastime to which you can devote your time, establishing a family, or being able to work and take steps toward delving deeply into that passion project you’ve always dreamt about are all examples of Ikigai.

Four Components of Ikigai

There are four items you must cross off your list in your quest to locate your Ikigai. Knowing what these four things are can help you continue your search on the right path. Your Ikigai should be as follows:

  • What you love

Your Ikigai should be something fun for you to do. It might be something that makes you happy, something you would gladly do at any moment. It’s something that will boost your dopamine levels, and you’d gladly talk about it and share it with others if given the opportunity. It might be as essential as a pastime you like, such as writing, making movies, taking photographs, painting, dancing, baking cakes, or even collecting stamps.

What you are good at

Another thing that might help you get closer to discovering your Ikigai is determining what you are or want to be excellent at. Is there something you’re naturally good at? Something in which you have a natural talent or are regarded as an expert? Or is there anything you’d like to learn how to do, something you’ve aspired to learn how to do or something you’ve worked hard to achieve?

It may be a skill you’ve been honing for years, such as videography, public speaking, fashion design, marketing, counselling, or computer programming. So, if you’re doing something you enjoy and are skilled at, you’ve crossed two items off your list to locate your Ikigai.

What can you get paid or rewarded for

You need to know what you may get monetarily compensated for to locate your Ikigai. Remember that to exist; we must earn money to cover our daily necessities and costs. As a result, your Ikigai should preferably be something that will pay you. It’s not enough to like what you do or to be competent at it. It is also essential that you be fairly rewarded for it and that it contributes to putting food on the table and clothes on your back.

What the world needs

The fourth factor in determining your Ikigai is something that the world or a community needs. Knowing that what we do contributes to a better world makes us feel happy. It gives us the impression that we play an essential part in our community. Nowadays, one of the reasons why many people are dissatisfied with their jobs is because they do not always perceive the value in what they do. Knowing that your job has the potential to improve the lives of others will help you move closer to discovering your Ikigai.

Whatever you have right now, whether it is a passion, a purpose, a profession, or a vacation, you can always find a way to make the most of it and get to a point where you may feel contentment, comfort, delight, and excitement all at the same time. Once you’ve discovered your Ikigai, you’ll realise how wonderful your life is. You will become more productive and determined to succeed. You will develop a state of flow that will allow you to appreciate being busy more. It will also inspire you to continually create and make the most of every second of your life. So, identify your Ikigai and start living a happier, more purposeful life. So I really hope this article takes you a step closer to your Ikigai or your true purpose in this life. Wishing you all the luck! 

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