Ikigai – Bring Happiness to your life with Ikigai

Ikigai, a Japanese concept, helps crystallise the ‘reason for living’. It is a process that can help you to to get our of bed, to actualise life’s purpose, to do what you want to do.

Ikigai is a state of wellbeing that comes out from the steadfastness to activities one enjoys, which also brings a deep sense of fulfilment.

Michiko Kumano

“I wish I had lived my life according to my choice and not given way to others opinions!”  

“How, I wish I was a little more perfect in the things I do!”

How many times has it happened that you have repented not doing things in the perfect manner, or undoing certain things of the past, or even having made your choice by listening to your heart and not your brain? Well, we are humans, and as humans, we are often pitched against such situations which seem to be in doldrums- when you can just muse and repent your decisions. 

Finding the right motivation in life to do things that your heart tells you to do is the key to happiness. It can be searched and brought to reality by some moments of introspection on your inside world and the world around you, to realise what is your ikigai or purpose of life.

ikigai. life purpose


Have you ever come across this word? Well Ikigai is a Japanese concept that is derived from the words ‘iki’ meaning ‘to live’ and ‘gai’ meaning the source of inspiration, thus essentially giving value to what you do every day by finding the purpose. 

Hence, in a way, ikigai is when you do not ‘snooze’ the alarm clock but instead get up and go about your work. Not only, in career, but in life in general, it is possible to embrace ikigai, unlike Buddhism that asks you to forgo the things that gives you happiness to attain peace and salvation. “I would rather go into singing than pursuing a career in medical for it is music that gives me happiness.” Ikigai rather, tells you to be more aware of your happiness and work towards it. 


How to live your life on the concept of Ikigai?

“I cannot rest from travel: I will drink Life to the lees”

 Ulysses’ ‘ikigai’ was clear- “to drink life to the lees’- to sail amidst the deep blue ocean far, far into the horizon’s end. The call of the sea summoned him to let go of his kingly pleasures and relinquish the throne, only because he knew what would give him the zeniths of contentment. Ikigai is the calling, the first thing that drives you through the day when you wake up in the morning. 

ikigai-life

According to Japanese tradition, it is your ikigai that is the key to make you happy and successful. It is your passion, your knack, your purpose of life that defines your quintessential core. Once you realise your true purpose of life, you will be able to contribute to the world. The benefits of identifying and practising your ikigai is mutual- as you reap benefits of satisfaction and even financial rewards, the world you are contributing too also gains from your innate talent. 

 And this is not a chance statement. Believe it or not, in Japan those who believe in the concept of ikigai intensely are live happy and long. In fact, there is a village in the country in the Okinawa archipelago where the longevity of the people are the highest and the reason is that they are happy to the core by embracing ikigai. 


So what is it that you need to do to welcome ikigai and therefore lead your life your way? Just think of this- do you feel you have something in you that had been veiled for long? Something that has kept you away from being what you are? If you had some passion that had kept you away from accomplishing your real happiness, then now is the time. This is what ikigai vouches- to make you happy and content by helping you realise and practise your dreams. 


How do you get your Ikigai?

When looking for your ikigai ask yourself four questions…

“What I love?”

“What am I good at?”

“ What the world needs?”

“What can I be paid for?”

get your ikigai

When you have the answer to all these questions, you will be able to do what you love doing and when that is something that the world needs, you will be paid for it as well. Thus these questions are interconnected and will help you find happiness and contentment in doing what you are passionate about. 

For example, if you had been passionate about teaching from your childhood, without doubt you will be good at it since you do it with your heart and soul. The world cannot do without teachers and when you contribute in your own small way, you will be paid for it as well. At the end of the day, your passion turns out to be the reason for your success and happiness in life. 

So when you do what you are good at, it is your passion at play. When the world needs what you are good at, it becomes your mission to give it to the world. As you contribute to the world, it becomes your vocation, and when you get paid for it, it turns out to be your profession.


At the juncture of all this is the happiness you derive from the path you choose in life and this juncture is the ‘sweet spot’ of your ikigai. So, if you feel you are trapped in a world where you are confused about what would give you happiness, just introspect and find your ikigai and happiness cannot be far behind.


Related Article…

[1] Kintsugi – Finding beauty in your imperfections

Aashish Nanda

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