Finding your Ikigai......
Ikigai is something you may have seen online, read a book about or even tried to figure out yourself. You’ll maybe recognise the Venn diagram above with four overlapping qualities: what you love, what you are good at, what the world needs, and what you can be paid for.
...so what exactly is Ikigai and how can you find yours?
Translated, Ikigai is composed of two words: iki, which means life and gai, which describes value or worth. This roughly translates to: what is your purpose in life or life’s worth.
In 1966, one of the first books written about Ikigai was called Ikigai-ni-tsuite (About Ikigai). It was written by psychiatrist Mieko Kamiya. She explains that Ikigai is similar to happiness but has a subtle difference in its meaning. It’s realising your mission or purpose in life and progressing towards your goals. She reckons what is important is pursuing your purpose, not whether or not you accomplish your goal.
One of the most recent books written is called Ikigai - The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life, written by Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles. They focus on the island of Okinawa, where Ikigai comes from. People in Okinawa live longer and have fewer diseases than anywhere else in the world. After interviewing centenarians in Okinawa to try to understand their longevity secrets, the authors developed the ten rules of Ikigai.
After reading lots about Ikigai, I can see how people can get confused as to what it means. I initially thought my Ikigai was my family - I thought they were my reason to get up in the morning! Some have said theirs is their morning tea, yoga or meditation. These too are very important for our health and happiness but Ikigai is your purpose in life....
Tim Tamashiro gave a fantastic Ted Talk on How to Ikigai (link at bottom). He says that Ikigai is like a treasure map to find out wonderful things about yourself. He gives a simple guide on how to find your Ikigai. He suggests you start with these 2 questions - What do you love to do? What are you good at? Really take your time with these questions and see where it takes you. Then he suggests either to take on a side job or volunteer on the side doing something that you love to do and are good at. This then opens up opportunities and can take you further along your treasure map and closer to your Ikigai.
For me, this is the best description of Ikigai! What do think?
Even if you feel miserable about your life or job right now, Ikigai is what helps you to look forward to the future. Diet, exercise and social/family bonds all play a part in your happiness too, which is why it’s a lifelong process we need to continually work on. Like Mieko Kamiya says, “what is important is pursuing your purpose”.
Remember, finding true happiness in your life doesn’t happen overnight. Working towards it WILL make you happy though and for me, that is what Ikigai is about!
Let me know what your thoughts are on Ikigai - would love to hear from you!
Tim Tamashiro Ted Talk - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pk-PcJS2QaU