Inspire to Be Inspired

Ikigai: Do You Really Need It?

Ikigai. The Japanese concept of finding your life’s purpose. It’s a topic that’s been overdone and overshared in the western world, and it offers such good insight into personal development. It’s a concept that encapsulates all the things we want to find out about ourselves, that there are now so many published works about it.

The concept of finding out what it is that makes your life worth living sounds like a good guide that’s been hidden all along on the shores of Japan. It made it seem like the Japanese have always found the answer all this time, but we’re just finding out about it now. But with a lot of things taken from foreign lands, with a foreign language and culture of its own, the word ikigai might have gotten lost in translation.

The western interpretation of ikigai suggests that to find true happiness, one must achieve four components: passion, mission, vocation, and profession.

What is something you are good at? You can try to look for this and find a part of your happiness in it. But be careful not to take it to the extreme and force yourself to be the very best at what you like to do. You don’t have to pressure yourself. After all, will you truly be happy if you constantly feel pressured to perform at your best?

What can you contribute to the world? Many people find their purpose in helping others. They make it their life’s mission and purpose to volunteer and give what they can to those in need. Indeed, something is fulfilling about making an impact on others’ lives. Just be wary not to give more than what you can because, in the end, you can’t really offer anything if you are empty.

What do you love to do? This is one of the hardest to answer because it’s challenging to find what you love when you are feeling lost. But reflect on the things that you like, what you always come back to, and what you’ve always dreamed of doing. The collection of your life’s experiences can tell you so much about yourself, and you might find what it is you love if you focus on the things (or people!) that are important to you.

What can you get paid for? Our professional life can give us the drive to get up in the morning every day. They say to do what you love and get paid for it, and for some people, it really does work. But if you don’t love your job, does that mean you’d have to quit? Not necessarily.

If your job gets your bills paid and puts food on your plate, as long as it doesn’t wear you to the bone, then you don’t really have to take the risk of going in between jobs just trying to find the perfect profession for you. For a lot of us, we can’t afford that. Your profession does not define you, but your inner skills and abilities can help you perform well at work, and they can help you feel fulfilled.

Do You Need to Find YourIkigai?

In this day and age, finding true happiness should no longer be hinged on one grand gesture or any idealistic concept. We can’t afford to keep looking for “happiness” while traveling around the world, meditating, or hopping jobs trying to find the “right” one. We all have bills to pay, and we know that the world will not wait for us.

To the Japanese, the idea of anikigaiis more cultural and nuanced. It’s finding joy in little things like feeling peaceful while doing your morning coffee routine. It can also mean the people you love and are important to you, who are why you get up in the morning. Ikigaican be subtle and more contextual, more personal. For you, it can mean feeling the joys of being an adult, hitting a milestone, and finding yourself elated as you download apps to look for houses because you can finally afford to buy one.


What If You Have More than One?


Yes, as you grow older and wiser, you also change. There are parts of your younger self that no longer exist in your present self, and so your  ikigai might be one thing today and another in the future. Happiness, as they say, is a choice. Choose to find the good in your everyday life, and go from there.

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