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Ikigai – the Japanese Concept of Finding Meaning in Life.


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Ikigai (生き甲斐) is a Japanese 🇯🇵 concept that refers to the “reason for being” or “the purpose of life”. The term ‘ikigai’ is derived from the two Japanese words: ‘iki’, which means ‘life’, and ‘gai’, which means ‘value’ or ‘worth’. Essentially, ikigai means finding the value or worth of life.

The origins of ikigai can be traced back to the Japanese island Okinawa 🗾, famous for its long-lived residents. It is deeply rooted in Japanese culture and is believed to have originated during the Heian period (794-1185). In Okinawa, people live long and healthy lives, and it is thought that one of the reasons for this is their strong sense of ikigai.

Ikigai comprises four elements:

  • What you love.
  • What you are good at.
  • What the world needs, 
  • and what you can be paid for.

These elements are represented in a Venn diagram, with the intersection of all four elements being your ikigai. 

  1. What do you love?
    The first element of ikigai is what you love, which refers to the things that bring you joy and fulfillment. It can be anything from a hobby to a passion you pursue in your free time.
  2. What are you good at?
    The second element of ikigai is what you are good at, meaning skills, talents, and abilities. It is what you excel at and what comes naturally to you.
  3. What does the world need?
    The third element of ikigai is what the world needs, or the things that are of value to society. It can be a product, a service, or an idea that positively impacts others.
  4. What can you be paid for?
    The fourth element of ikigai is what you can be paid for, or the things you can do or produce that have a monetary value. It can be a job or a business that generates income.

Finding your ikigai can have many benefits, including:

  • Improved well-being: Having a sense of purpose and meaning in life can improve your overall well-being and happiness.
  • Increased motivation: Doing something that you love and are good at can increase your motivation and drive to succeed.
  • Greater satisfaction: When you are doing something that is of value to society and aligns with your interests, it will bring you great joy.

Finding your ikigai is a journey that requires self-reflection and introspection. You need to explore your passions, skills, and values to find the intersection of what you love, what you are good at, what the world needs, and what you can be paid for.

  1. Identify your passions: Make a list of the things that bring you joy and fulfillment in life.
  2. Recognize your strengths: Identify your skills, talents, and abilities. Ask yourself what you excel at and what comes naturally to you.
  3. Determine what the world needs: Identify the things that are of value to society. Ask yourself what problems you can solve or what needs you can fulfill.
  4. Explore opportunities: Look for opportunities to combine your passions, strengths, and the needs of society. Consider how you can use your talents to positively impact others.
  5. Reflect on your purpose: Reflect on what gives your life meaning and purpose. Consider how you can align your passions and strengths with the needs of society to create a fulfilling and meaningful life.

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